Georgia’s sales tax holiday usually falls at the end of July, but this year the state legislature didn’t create the back-to-school event.
Back-to-school shoppers in Georgia who have grown accustomed to a sales tax-free weekend may be disappointed this year. The Georgia legislature, which has to approve the tax holidays on a yearly basis, didn’t do so for 2017.
As such, July 29-30, which would have been the summer sales tax holiday, will be just another weekend for shoppers in the state. Over the past decade, Georgia has had two sales tax-free weekends — one in late summer and the other in the fall.
The late-summer tax holiday has been especially popular with parents and teachers who have used it to buy back-to-school clothes, school supplies, electronics and the like. Clothing worth up to $100, school supplies worth up to $20 and computers were among the items on which state sales tax was waived.
The fall sales tax holiday highlighted energy-efficient appliances.
Some tax experts have argued that the sales tax holidays are politically popular but bad for state and local governments, which lose millions in revenues.
Wesley Tharpe, of the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute, has estimated that the holidays cost state and local governments as much as $70 million in tax revenues.
“That adds up to real money at a time when Georgia’s state and local lawmakers are struggling to fully fund schools, meet transportation demand and keep rural hospitals from shuttering,” Tharpe wrote. “Redirecting the funds Georgia loses through its sales tax holidays to these and other public investments could provide real benefit to Georgia families and a real boost to the state’s economy.”
Supporters of the holiday, which include the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, argue that the holidays stimulate the state’s economy as well as give consumers a small break and encourage energy efficiency.
Last year, 17 states, primarily in the Southeast, held at least one sales tax holiday, according to the Tax Foundation. That’s down from a high of 19 states in 2010.
The typically conservative foundation also argues against such holidays, saying that retailers often jack up prices during the events and get an unfair amount of free publicity for what amounts to a 4-7 percent discount on impacted items.
Georgia consumers who live near a state line might have other options if they still want to pursue the sales. Several neighboring states still will be holding late-summer tax-free weekends, including Alabama (Aug. 4-6), Florida (Aug. 4-6), South Carolina (Aug. 4-6) and Tennessee (July 28-30).
Photo via Shutterstock