AL lawmakers discuss date change for back-to-school sales tax holiday

Updated: Feb. 16, 2017 at 8:15 PM CST
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. - In its eleventh year, Alabama lawmakers are discussing a change in the Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday. There's now a push to schedule the weekend sooner in order to ensure it is held before all schools start.

When the holiday was created it was set by law to be the first weekend in August, so it can only be changed through the legislative process. With some school districts starting sooner than that first weekend, retailers and consumers are pushing for the tax-free weekend to be held earlier.

"By having it a couple of weeks earlier we will find that the early bird catches the worm, they'll get the discounts," said Serendipity Uniforms owner, Tyson Eaves. "But as retailers, we will be able to re-stock our shelves for those people who do wait until the last minute. We find customers that are going to two, three, four stores to get everything that they need. So, it would help tremendously for everyone, retailers and the parents."

The House and Senate bills have already passed in the committees and now must go before the full House and Senate for a vote. If passed it would set the holiday to be held the third weekend in July.

"We've been hearing from retailers and consumers across the state that sometimes the back to school holiday falls after the first day of school in some school systems," explained Melissa Warnke with the Alabama Retail Association. "So, it makes it impossible for those parents to be able to take advantage of the tax savings. By moving it to the third weekend in July it would ensure that it's always before the first day of school and to really do what it is intended to do and that's to help people save money."

Although it's a tax-free weekend, the state actually sees an increase in sales tax revenue. It's believed moving the date up would actually pump that tax revenue up even more.

"Year over the year the state has always brought in more sales tax revenues during the month of August then they did the year prior, except the two weeks where the sales tax holiday fell August 7-9," Warnke said. "That's because it fell too late in the calendar year. A lot of people had already started back to school, so their shopping patterns changed. They did more shopping in July or they spread it out because there was no reason to do a lot of shopping during the sales tax holiday because school had already started."

If approved the holiday date changes would go into effect this year, moving it to July 21-23.

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