OK. OK. It doesn’t have the same ring as the opening lap of the Indianapolis 500, but in just a few hours the race nonetheless begins.
We refer to this weekend’s seventh annual Tennessee Sales Tax Holiday, a three-day tribute to lower pricing — in the range of about 10 percent — on merchandise most associated with back-to-school. In a nutshell, that’s clothing, school supplies and computers.
Obviously, these three primary categories have plenty of line items, but in the end it’s all the same; that is, it’s an opportunity made possible by Gov. Bill Haslam and members of the Tennessee Legislature’s 108th General Assembly to give state residents a break on pricing for a three-day period leading up to the reopening of schools from corner to corner of The Volunteer State.
The weekend of tax-dollar savings begins Friday at 12:01 a.m. and will continue through Sunday night at 11:59 p.m.
During this period of lower-cost retail, bargain hunters in Cleveland and Bradley County, as well as those from across the state, will not pay state or local sales tax on clothing with a price of $100 or less per item, school and art supplies with a price of $100 or less per item, and computers with a price of $1,500 or less.
Specifically, here’s a rundown of what’s eligible for the sales tax exemption:
- Clothing: Shirts, dresses, pants, coats, gloves and mittens, hats and caps, hosiery, neckties, belts, sneakers, shoes, uniforms (both athletic and nonathletic) 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 the eyes of local legislators, whose votes during the most recent Nashville session kept the Sales Tax Holiday alive, the three-day mega-sale is an opportunity for taxpayers to reap the benefits of their own commitments to living, and to spending their earnings, in Tennessee.
One is state Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland representing the 24th Legislative District, who is the father of two Lee University students.
“The Brooks family wil join thousands of other Tennessee families as we prepare to send our kids back to college this fall,” the longtime legislator said. “It’s good to know that so many of us believe in teaching, training and tax-free in Tennessee!”
State Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland representing the 22nd Legislative District, echoed the sentiments of his House of Representatives colleague.
“I hope this holiday allows the people of our community to keep a bit more hard-earned money in their pockets,” Watson stressed. “I am an advocate of lower taxes across the board and will continue that fight in Nashville ... over the coming months.”
Ditto for their state Senate brethren. State Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville representing the 9th Senatorial District, and state Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga representing the 10th Senatorial District, are also strong supporters of the Sales Tax Holiday.
Regardless of its origin — whether credit goes to Republicans, Democrats, Independents or any in between — the Sales Tax Holiday is a deserved break for the spending power of all Tennessee residents.
Like the lawmakers, we urge Cleveland and Bradley County residents to take full advantage of the opportunity.
Just one reminder: Spend within your means. Use cash, checks or debit cards if at all possible. Keeping the credit cards in storage will help avoid a very good idea going very bad.