Friday, July 25, 2014

TOP STORY >> Williams touts sales-tax break

Sen. Eddie Joe Williams (R-Cabot) plans to buy clothes and school supplies for his family on the weekend of Saturday, Aug. 2 and Sunday, Aug. 3, to take advantage of the Arkansas sales tax holiday.

The legislature created the sales tax holiday in 2011 with the passage of Act 757 to help families with children in school. It is commonly known as the “Back to School” sales tax because it happens on the first weekend in August of every year, when families are preparing for the upcoming school year.

“You don’t have to have kids in school to benefit,” Williams said.

“Basically, it is a weekend on which sales of clothes, accessories and school supplies are exempt from state and local sales taxes,” he said.

“My children are grown, but I plan to take advantage of the tax holiday to get clothes and school supplies for my grandkids,” Williams said.

“The list of items that will be exempt from the sales tax is pretty impressive,” Williams said. “The state sales tax is 6.5 percent and a lot of cities and counties collect an additional local-option sales tax, so shoppers will definitely notice the savings when they get to the cash register.”

Clothing and footwear that cost less than $100 per item will qualify for the exemption.

“But remember, if you buy an item that costs more than $100, you’ll have to pay the state and local sales taxes on the entire amount,” Williams said.

Here’s an example provided by the state Department of Finance and Administration: A shopper buys two shirts for $50 each, a pair of jeans for $75 and a pair of shoes for $125. The sales tax will only be collected on the shoes.

Even though the total price of the shirts and the jeans added up to $175, no sales tax will be collected on them because each individual item cost less than $100.

Accessories costing less than $50 qualify for the exemption. Examples include wallets, watches, jewelry, sunglasses, handbags, cosmetics, briefcases, hair notions, wigs and hair pieces.

School supplies also qualify, including binders, book bags, calculators, tape, paper, pencils, scissors, notebooks, folders and glue.

Textbooks, reference books, maps, globes and workbooks will be exempt from sales taxes. So will art supplies needed for art class, such as clay and glazes, paint, brushes and drawing pads.

Even bathing suits and beach wear will be exempt from the sales tax, as long as they cost less than $100 per item.

Diapers and disposable diapers will not be taxed. Boots, including steel-toed boots, slippers, sneakers and sandals will be exempt from the sales tax as well.

Williams listed some popular items that will not be exempt, which means that retail stores will collect a sales tax when you purchase them. Those items include sporting goods, like cleats and spikes worn by baseball, soccer and football players.

Recreational items, such as skates, shoulder pads, shin guards and ski boots will be taxed as well, Williams said.

Computers, software and computer equipment are not exempt, and you will have to pay sales taxes if you purchase those items on the holiday, he said.

All retail stores must participate and may not legally collect any state or local sales taxes on qualified items during the tax holiday. Also, there is no limit on the number of items you buy that are tax exempt, as long as each individual item costs less than $100, or less than $50, if it is an accessory.