Call it the Black Friday of the classroom if you will. By any other name, Tennessee’s seventh annual Sales Tax Holiday begins its three-day tick at 12:01 a.m. Friday and will continue through 11:59 p.m. Sunday.
In a word, it means parents, grandparents, guardians and sometimes even the students — as well as the buying public — can purchase eligible school-related merchandise with no local or state sales tax included. That’s roughly a 10 percent discount on goods ranging from clothing to notebook paper to pens and pencils to computers, and even to lunch boxes.
Gov. Bill Haslam, Department of Revenue Commissioner Richard H. Roberts and a slew of state legislators — including the four-member Bradley County delegation — have been all over this one, encouraging local residents to take full advantage of the certain back-to-school shopping spree that is expected to keep local retailers hopping Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
One is state Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland representing the 24th Legislative District, who has two college-aged children who are preparing for a new year of academics at Lee University.
“The Brooks family will join thousands of other Tennessee families as we prepare to send our kids back to college this fall,” Brooks told the Cleveland Daily Banner in a prior interview. “It’s good to know that so many of us believe in teaching, training and tax-free in Tennessee.”
He must be right judging from Roberts’ assessment of the impact on bargain-hunting buyers. Roberts reported last year’s back-to-school bonanza saved Tennessee taxpayers more than $10 million. The revenue leader expects the same this year.
“We are hopeful that Tennessee shoppers will again take advantage of the tax relief provided by the 2013 Sales Tax Holiday,” Roberts stressed.
Ditto for state Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland representing the 22nd Legislative District, and state Sens. Mike Bell, R-Riceville representing the 9th Senatorial District, and Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga representing the 10th Senatorial District. Like Brooks, all support the three-day holiday and showed it with their votes during the most recent session of the 108th General Assembly in which they agreed to keep the campaign going as a reward to Tennessee residents — especially those with school-aged children who can benefit the most.
Watson urged his area constituents to make full use of the opportunity, including families, in his entire three-county district. That’s Meigs and Polk counties, and part of Bradley.
“I hope this holiday allows the people of our community to keep a bit more hard-earned money in their pockets,” Watson said. “I am an advocate of lower taxes across the board and will continue that fight in Nashville to help put even more money back in the bank accounts of Tennessee residents over the coming months.”
Like Brooks, Bell is also a parent of children still in their education years. His family, too, will be among this weekend’s no-tax shoppers.
“For those of us who are parents with children in school, Tennessee’s tax-free weekend is a great opportunity to get those back-to-school items,” Bell said. “I encourage everyone to take advantage of this chance to save almost 10 percent on items they need.”
Items included in the big sale are:
- Clothing: Shirts, dresses, pants, coats, gloves and mittens, hats and caps, hosiery, neckties, belts, sneakers, shoes, uniforms (both athletic and non-athletic), and scarves.
- School supplies: Binders, book bags, calculators, tape, chalk, crayons, erasers, folders, glue, pens, pencils, lunch boxes, notebooks, paper, rulers and scissors.
- Art supplies: Clay and glazes, acrylic, tempera and oil paints, paintbrushes for artwork, sketch and drawing pads, and watercolors.
- Computers: Laptop and desktop computers, tablets, central processing units (CPUs), along with various other components including monitor, keyboard, mouse, cables to connect components and pre-loaded software. (Note: While the CPU may be purchased separately, other items must be part of a bundled computer package in order to be eligible. iPads and other tablet computers are eligible for tax exemption, but smartphones and video game consoles are not.)
In a press release announcing the approach of this year’s Sales Tax Holiday, Haslam joined the local legislators in urging use of the lower-cost weekend of retail.
“The weekend provides savings for families, especially as students are starting the new school year, and the holiday can provide relief on clothing, school and art supplies, and computer purchases,” the governor said in the prepared statement.