Getting a jump on local retailers’ back-to-school sales on the final weekend before the reopening of schoolhouse doors, the tax-free shopper’s paradise will kick off Friday at 12:01 a.m. and end Sunday at 11:59 p.m.
Throughout the three-day shopping extravaganza, families can get tax-free purchases on certain clothing, school and art supplies, and computers.
Viewed from another perspective, it’s a 10 percent savings on eligible items, according to a joint statement by Bradley County’s legislative delegation — state Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville representing the 9th Senatorial District; state Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland representing the 22nd Legislative District; and state Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland representing the 24th Legislative District.
The trio of longtime legislators pointed to the importance to Tennessee families for saving on purchases during this annual observance, especially to parents who are preparing to return their children to school.
Tax-free items include clothing with a price of $100 or less per item, school and school art supplies with a price of $100 or less per item, and computers with a price of $1,500 or less. These items are exempt form state and local sales tax in Tennessee during the holiday, according to information provided by the Tennessee Department of Revenue.
“Local governments are held harmless and are reimbursed lost sales tax revenues by the state,” the department cited in a media statement.
Tennessee Code Annotated 67-6-393 established the annual Sales Tax Holiday in Tennessee in 2006. The first such holiday was observed Aug. 4-6 of that year. The inaugural shopping spree saved Tennessee residents an estimated $15 million, according to the state department. Since the first year, the three-day weekend has saved in-state shoppers an amount ranging from $8 million to $10 million each year.
Local legislators urged Cleveland and Bradley County families to participate in the community’s three days of blue-light specials.
“The tax-free holiday in August is important for Tennesseans to utilize, especially in a year like we’ve experienced,” Brooks said. “I encourage everyone to utilize this tax-free weekend to pick up much-needed items, completely tax-free.”
Watson concurred, while pointing out Cleveland and Bradley County households are no different from those across the state when it comes to needing an occasional budget pick-me-up.
“I know families are struggling, but this tax holiday will put money back into the pockets of taxpayers where it belongs,” Watson said. “This is a great opportunity to pick up those items that are a little more expensive. The savings will be significant.”
Like Brooks and Watson, Bell encouraged local families to take care of their shopping needs at a time when they can benefit most. The first-term state senator pointed to the work of the 107th General Assembly whose houses — Senate and House of Representatives — worked together to assure Tennessee would be capable of continuing the tax-free holiday tradition.
“We have worked hard the last two years to ensure that we managed our budget in a fiscally responsible manner so we could return taxpayers’ money to them,” Bell said. “This is one of the many measures that does exactly that, and I am proud to be a part of it.”
Speaker of the House of Representatives Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, joined the Bradley County legislators in inviting area families to partake of the savings opportunity.
“The fall Sales Tax Holiday is very helpful for Tennessee families,” she said. “I commend the Legislature for making it a priority, and I hope Tennesseans will take advantage of it for school supplies.”
Items that are eligible for the Sales Tax Holiday include:
n Clothing: Shirts, dresses, pants, coats, gloves and mittens, hats and caps, hosiery, neckties, belts, sneakers, shoes, uniforms (athletic and non-athletic) and scarves.
n School Supplies: Binders, book bags, calculators, tape, chalk, crayons, erasers, folders, glue, pens, pencils, lunch boxes, notebooks, paper, rulers and scissors.
n Art Supplies: Clay and glazes, acrylic, tempera and oil paints, paint brushes for art work, sketch and drawing pads, and water colors.
n Computers: Central processing units (CPU), along with various other components including monitor, keyboard, mouse, cables to connect components and pre-loaded software. (iPads are eligible for tax exemption, but video games and consoles are not).
projects to benefit
The Sales Tax Holiday also comes at a fitting time for at least two area drives that are collecting donated school supplies for area school systems and for East Cleveland neighborhood families.
The “Stuff the Bus” campaign will be accepting school-supply donations Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Don Ledford Automotive Center. “Stuff the Bus” is being coordinated through United Way of Bradley County Inc., Ledford Automotive and WCLE Mix 104.1. Once the collection is completed, the bus full of supplies will be divided between the Cleveland City and Bradley County School systems. The systems will then distribute the supplies to students in need throughout the coming school season.
Additional information about “Stuff the Bus” is available on the United Way website at www.unitedwaybc.com and on the agency’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/unitedway-bradleycounty.
Another back-to-school program whose distribution to families in need that will occur on Saturday is the School Supply Provision initiative offered again by The Refuge Community Centre whose leaders by Monday had already received 281 applications for assistance from families in East Cleveland and surrounding area neighborhoods. The Refuge is located inside the Family Support Center on Blythe Avenue. Saturday’s school-supply distribution will take place for qualifying families at the center (the former Blythe Avenue Elementary School).
Wednesday was the deadline for registering for family assistance through the School Supply Provision. Under this program, backpacks filled with school supplies are distributed to registered families, who have qualified, for a $1 fee. Proceeds are used by The Refuge to purchase supplies for the following year’s program.
Businesses and churches partnering with The Refuge to support the School Supply Provision with collection barrels have included T.J.Maxx, New Covenant Church of God, Durkee Road Church of God of Prophecy, Berean Baptist Church, SkyRidge Medical Center and Southern Adventist University in Ooltewah.
Questions about The Refuge or the School Supply Provision may be directed to the agency at 423-584-5211 or by sending an email to contact@the refugecommunity.org.