Most know it as the state’s Sales Tax Holiday — the 10th in the last decade.
But parents of school-aged children see it as something a little more. In a word, they exclaim in unison, “Hallelujah!”
After all, what better way to celebrate back-to-school than buying all those back-to-school supplies at a 10 percent bargain?
It starts Friday at 12:01 a.m. ... for those eager enough to hit the stores running in the middle of the night. It ends at 11:59 p.m. Sunday ... for those who forgot a few last-minute items on the original list, one that included all the regulars: paper, pens, pencils, pads, notebooks, clothes, shoes, book bags, lunch boxes, crayons and chalk, but might have forgotten a few extras like ... say, new computers or perhaps a few winter garments like coats, gloves, scarves and hats.
It’s probably the most endorsed three-day shopping extravaganza in the Volunteer State. Even Gov. Bill Haslam weighed in by reminding his constituents of the potential cost savings by buying now instead of waiting till later.
“This holiday offers Tennesseans great savings on important back-to-school items, and I encourage everyone to take advantage of this opportunity,” the state leader stressed.
Richard Roberts, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Revenue who keeps a close eye on the statewide sale’s economic impact, isn’t far behind his boss in extolling the virtues of the taxpayers’ dream that became law in 2006 by vote of the Tennessee General Assembly.
“We hope Tennessee shoppers will take advantage of the tax relief offered by this year’s Sales Tax Holiday,” Roberts said.
It’s almost a sure bet they will. But Tennesseans won’t be alone on the state’s retail floors. The three-day shopping spree traditionally brings bargain hunters across the state line from neighboring jurisdictions like Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama.
And Tennessee businesses aren’t fussing about the long lines.
Because they had a hand in developing — and ultimately approving the Sales Tax Holiday — legislators don’t bat an eyelash at the chance to invite families into the stores to save a few bucks by spending a few bucks.
“Everybody likes a good deal when it comes to optimum pricing at a time when shopping demand is high,” said state Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland who represents the 24th Legislative District.
The father of two, Brooks himself has taken advantage of some of the savings on school supplies over the years.
“Every Tennessee citizen, and all Cleveland and Bradley County residents, deserve this opportunity to make high-demand purchases at a significant discount,” Brooks said. “That’s the whole idea behind the Sales Tax Holiday ... to allow families to stock up on school supplies and other eligible items at prices that won’t break the family budget.”
State Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland representing the 22nd Legislative District (part of Bradley, Meigs and Polk) who is closing out his career in Nashville in order to become Bradley County’s new sheriff, nonetheless took the opportunity to urge local residents to make good on the Legislature-inspired gift to the electorate.
“It is once again that time of year for Tennesseans to participate in our state’s annual Sales Tax Holiday,” Watson said. “This tax-free weekend presents a great opportunity to save money on back-to-school items or to stock up on much-needed essentials. It also gives us the chance to shop local and support our small businesses.”
Ditto for the Senate side of the legislative aisle.
Mike Bell, R-Riceville who represents the 9th Senatorial District (part of Bradley, Monroe, McMinn and Polk), pointed to the past success of the Sales Tax Holiday, and why he believes it’s a viable part of Tennessee’s shopping future.
“This Sales Tax Holiday has been a tremendous success,” Bell stated. “It has stimulated sales each year while providing citizens with Sales Tax relief on clothing and other supplies, especially those needed for students returning to school.”
He added, “I encourage all citizens to take advantage of the Sales Tax Holiday and hope that consumers will shop at our local businesses to help our economy.”
State Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga who represents the 10th Senatorial District (part of Bradley and Hamilton counties), joined the shopping spree salute.
Like Brooks, Watson and Bell, Gardenhire encouraged residents throughout the Southeast Tennessee area, and across the state, to support their local businesses — and their own wallets — by saving money on tax-free purchases.
For any who haven’t heard, here’s a list of items eligible for the 10 percent discount:
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 artwork, sketch and drawing pads, and watercolors.
n Computers: Laptop computers, desktop computers, tablets, central processing units (CPUs), along with various other components including monitor, keyboard, mouse, cables to connect components and pre-loaded software.
The three days of discount purchases apply to clothing, school and art supplies with a price of $100 or less per item, and computers with a price of $1,500 or less.
Even Beth Harwell, R-Nashville who serves as Speaker of the House of Representatives, got into the mix by joining her legislative partners in endorsing the three days of Sales Tax freedom.
“Reps. Brooks and Watson are, and have been, my partners in advocating for lower taxes across the board,” Harwell said.
She added, “We all [including local senators Bell and Gardenhire] support this tax holiday which allows Tennesseans to keep a bit more hard-earned money, especially as they prepare to send their kids back to school.”
The Sales Tax Holiday is thought to save Tennesseans an estimated $8 to $10 million in taxes each year, according to Roberts.
Tennessee Code Annotated 67-6-393 established the annual Sales Tax Holiday in 2006. The first holiday came Aug. 4-6 of that year.