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Is the sales tax holiday worth it?

Aug. 9-10 event aims to save consumers money

August 02, 2013
MILTON, Ga — Most consumers try to save money, and as the Aug. 9-10 Georgia sales tax holiday looms, saving is the priority. But is this a good thing?

Georgia implemented a sales tax holiday in 2003 and has been intact most years since. Many clothing items, electronics and school supplies are exempt from the usual taxes.

Liz Malm, who works at Tax Foundation, a think-tank in Washington D.C., said that the sales tax holiday is not a smart move for states.

"I think it's more political – it looks good," Malm said. "If you're going to buy something big, it makes sense to buy it on a day when you don't have to pay a sales tax on it. But just because [the sales tax holiday] is popular doesn't mean it's good tax policy."

Malm thinks states should get rid of sales tax holidays and reform tax policy that isn't just good for a small period, but will be beneficial in the long term.

"I think you can go back and forth on all of this," said Bill O'Connor, the economic development manager in the city of Milton. "The Tax Foundation can show data that backs up their point of view and the state can show data that backs up their point of view."

But is the sales tax holiday just a savvy political move?

Malm said politicians like to show citizens they're saving them money. But it doesn't do the economy any good over a longer period of time.

"If you're a consumer, of course you'll wait until the holiday to buy a bigger good," Malm said. "It makes sense for the consumer, not for the economy."

Georgia's sales tax holiday is Aug. 9-10.

This article appeared in the August 8 issue of the Milton Herald.

Ga. Sales tax holiday

Aug. 9, 10

Many clothing items, electronics and school supplies are exempt from sales taxes

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    I do agree tax reform would be good.
    August 05, 2013 | 07:32 PM

    But since 2007 alone I have bought thousands of dollars of merchandise (mostly expensive computer-related equipment) during the sales tax holidays and saved hundreds in sales taxes. Equipment purchased I otherwise would have bought online instead to save taxes. I highly doubt any tax "policy" would have offered the same savings.

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