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Hold onto your school shopping bags

Local cities and the state will be giving shoppers a break on back-to-school items the first weekend of August.

Gov. Matt Blunt recently signed House Bill 64 into law, making the Sales Tax Holiday an annual event. The holiday is scheduled for the first full weekend in August and will exempt certain clothing, school supplies, computers and related items from state sales tax.

“The bill I have signed will make preparing students for back to school easier on Missouri’s hard working families,” Blunt said. “Not only can families take advantage of the immediate savings, but also holding a Sales Tax Holiday each year will give families the opportunity to plan purchases in advance knowing the tax break will be available.”

In addition to saving on state sales tax, shoppers can save even more by shopping in cities and counties that are also participating in the Sales Tax Holiday. Local cities that will be participating in this year’s Sales Tax Holiday include Desloge, Bonne Terre, Leadwood and Bismarck.

St. Francois County officials have said the county will also be participating in this year’s Sales Tax Holiday. While they won’t collect taxes during it on qualified purchases made within the county this time around, county officials also indicated they probably will opt out of the holiday in the future.

“With all of the TIF districts in St. Francois County, we can’t afford to pay our bills as it is,” said St. Francois County Presiding Commissioner Jim Henson. “Our sales tax revenue is what makes our government work. With the magnitude of all of the TIF districts, we really can’t afford to participate in the Sales Tax Holiday.”

According to officials with the Department of Revenue, the county would have had to notify them a year in advance of their decision to opt out. Since the bill bringing back the sales tax holiday was just passed, there was no opportunity to do that. Cities and counties will thus be forced to participate if they did so last year.

Only school items will qualify for the sales tax break during the three-day holiday. These include certain clothing, school supplies, computers and related items. Those purchases won’t be subject to state sales taxes or other sales taxes in participating cities and counties during the holiday. The exemption begins at 12:01 a.m. Aug. 5 and lasts until midnight Aug. 7.

Rep. Steven Tilley, R-Perryville, said the Sales Tax Holiday is a great opportunity for parents with kids in school.

“This is a good thing because this saves a lot of families money,” Tilley said. “With the increase in sales the weekend creates, projections show that state and local governments really don’t lose a whole lot of money by giving up the sales tax revenue.”

Rep. Brad Robinson, D-Bonne Terre, said there are both positives and negatives to the Sales Tax Holiday.

“The holiday provides a good means for folks to purchase back-to-school items for their children,” Robinson said. “However, on the other side of the coin, you have to take into account how the holiday affects the sales tax revenues of rural cities and counties.”

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