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Tax holiday continues for third year

Floridians will find a good reason to cross the Bama-Flora line the first weekend in August – Alabama’s third annual sales tax holiday.

Sales tax in 231 cities and counties in Alabama with be lifted for clothing, school and office supplies, books and computers and computer equipment starting at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 1 to midnight Sunday, Aug. 3.

“We welcome Florida shoppers to participate in the Alabama sales tax holiday,” ARA president Rick Brown said. “We invite our friends from Mississippi to cross the state border as well to take advantage of the Alabama sales tax holiday.”

There are some exceptions to the holiday, and not all cities and counties are participating. Clothing priced over $100, school and office supplies over $50, books over $30 and computers and computer equipment priced over $750 will still be charging sales tax.

A complete list of other items that will still be taxed can be found at www.alabamaretail.com. Retailers will have a reference guide on tax-free items at cash registers.

The holiday was enacted in 2006, and does not require legislative approval each year. It was backed by the Alabama Retail Association, a representative of nearly 4,000 independent retail stores and companies, and targeted at back-to-school consumers, but non-school shoppers take advantage of the holiday as well.

“Retailers throughout the state wanted the holiday,” Nancy Dennis, public relations director for the ARA, said.

According to the ARA, sales tax collections increased the month of August 10.4 percent in 2006 and an additional 4.6 percent in August 2007.

“The sales tax holiday boosts retail sales and spurs purchases in other segments beyond tax-free items,” Brown said. “The sales tax holiday is good for everyone – consumers, retailers and Alabama’s economy.”

“In light of the economic situation, it’s a great way to save money,” Dennis said.

Neighboring states Tennessee and Georgia will also have sales tax holidays the first weekend in August. Mississippi has never had a sales tax holiday, and Florida opted out of the holiday for the first time in nine years.

“The Alabama Retail Association encourages Alabamians as well as those in neighboring states to take advantage of the savings available during the sales tax holiday,” Brown said. “Families looking for a to make their dollars go further or to spend their economic stimulus checks should make the most of this opportunity. Many retailers also mark down their merchandise during this three-day period, making the holiday a boon to consumers.”