Georgia back-to-school tax holidays may be on a comeback, multiply


South Georgia lawmakers are leading the charge to bring back the state’s back-to-school sales-tax holiday in August and September.

House Bill 796 by Rep. John Corbett, R-Lake Park, would renew a Georgia tradition that ended last year, in part because lawmakers found it so costly.

Under Corbett’s proposal, the sales-tax holidays on clothes, computers and software, school supplies and the like would run from Aug. 4-5 and Sept. 29-30. Previously they were over one weekend.

Legislation was filed Monday to also bring back a sales-tax holiday on energy efficient products from Oct. 5-7.

South Georgia lawmakers have long promoted the sales-tax holiday as a way to allow local retailers to compete with counterparts in other states, like Florida, that have had similar holidays.

In Georgia, the tax holiday was started in the early 2000s. It was discontinued briefly when the state was feeling the crushing financial weight of the Great Recession and couldn’t afford it, but it made a comeback for several years before it was killed again in 2017.

Lawmakers have to approve legislation allowing them because one back-to-school weekend of tax-free shopping costs state and local governments about $70 million in lost revenue.

Two tax-free holidays would boost that cost, or savings, depending on one’s perspective.

Both the conservative Washington-based Tax Foundation and the left-leaning Georgia Budget & Policy Institute have said the holidays are terrible tax policy, do little or nothing to spur the economy and often provide minimal benefit to shoppers.

The Tax Foundation put out a report in 2016 saying they merely shift when people who were already going to buy back-to-school items make their purchases. The group also argues that some retailers also raise prices during the holiday, which reduce the savings of consumers.


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