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Retailers brace for tax holiday
Tax-free weekend set for Thursday through Sunday
Taxes logo for Web
    Local retailers are bracing for an onslaught of shoppers hoping to take advantage of the back-to-school sales tax holiday, which begins Thursday and runs through Sunday, Aug. 2.
    Additional staff is scheduled and shipments of new, back-to-school clothing have already arrived, said Keith Boyett, owner of The Sir Shop. In spite of a depressed economy, he said he expects the weekend to be very busy with back-to-school shoppers.
    "We're cautiously optimistic," he said. "We have some promotional items on sale ... this is definitely going to be a people-getting weekend."
    Maurice's manager Yolanda Lewis said she expects many back-to-school shoppers as well. "We do expect a big crowd," she said. "We usually have a lot of coupons go out in  the mail to customers, and we're having a big sale."
     “The Georgia Retail Association (GRA) is ready for Georgia’s 8th back-to-school Sales Tax Holiday,” said association President John Heavener.  “We believe that consumers and retailers have been waiting for this event all summer.”
    Due to the economy, consumers have been forced to cut back on their purchases, he said.  "Consumers are shopping very carefully and this meshing of excellent sales prices and an abatement of state and local sales taxes will allow them to stretch their dollars and to make purchases that they have been putting off."
    Peggy Chapman, president of the Statesboro-Bulloch County Chamber of commerce, said she is hopeful that shoppers will come out to  take advantage of the sales tax reprieve.
    "Every year we hope it's going to encourage people to get out and shop, and buy their children's school clothes," she said. "It ( the sales tax omission) is quite a savings."
    She hopes the sales tax holiday will boost retail sales.
    Statesboro's Anthony Waters, immediate past-chairman of the GRA, said "When retail works, Georgia works.”  The state’s current economic malaise proves this statement to be true, Heavener said.
    Retail provides 18.81 percent of Georgia’s work force; and retail sales top $144 billion per year.  For Georgia’s economic engine to work, the retail picture must improve, he said.
    Boyett feels things will improve, and expects this weekend to reflect that. "I think  the (Statesboro) Mall is going to be very busy," he said. As for his store, he expects large crowds as well.
    "Usually it is a bumper day," Chapman said. But she expects the economy will affect the crowds. "I'm sure it will ( affect spending) in some ways. People are being very, very careful in their spending."

Back-to-School items tax exempt      
    The sales tax bill, House Bill 120, provides for a sales tax  exemption from both state and local sales taxes for certain items purchased  July 30 – August 2,  2009.
    During the sales tax holiday period, a  sales tax exemption applies to purchases of tangible personal property in the  following categories: clothing with a sales price of $100 or less per item. (Accessories such as handbags, umbrellas, cuff links, handkerchiefs, jewelry,  key cases, wallets, watches and watch bands, and ponytail holders and  similar hair products are not exempt.)
    Also, personal computers are exempt: Single purchases of $1,500 or less of  personal computers and/or related accessories is exempt. However, if the single  purchase exceeds $1,500, the entire transaction is taxable.
    General school supplies (with a sales  price of $20 or less per item) are exempt as well.
    Exemptions are intended for an  individual's personal use and exclude items rented, leased,  purchased by businesses, or purchased for resale. The exemptions do not apply  to items sold at theme parks, entertainment complexes, hotels, restaurants,  and airports.

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