Tax-free weekend may save $2.8M

WalMart employee Mary Brinkley, adjusts a sign on a computer display in her store for the State Tax holiday.

STEVE HELBER

The annual tax-free holiday aimed primarily at back-to-school items begins Friday, giving residents a chance to save some money and potentially boosting retailers' bottom line.

The holiday starts at 12:01 a.m. Friday and will run until midnight Sunday. During that time, the state suspends its 6 percent sales tax on dozens of back-to-school themed items. Local taxes in Charleston, Dorchester and Berkeley counties will be suspended, as well.

Among the exempted items are computers, bookbags, clothes, shoes, hats and school supplies. Camping equipment, cookware, cosmetics, toys, furniture and jewelry are among the items not exempt.

Officials estimate the holiday will save consumers about $2.8 million that normally would go to the state.

Many local businesses consider the holiday a boost to business and some capitalize on the holiday by cutting costs on items to attract consumers.

South Carolina's annual back-to-school "Sales Tax Holiday," the three-day sales and use-tax break on traditional school purchases, is Friday through Sunday.

During the weekend, sales and use tax is lifted on purchases of clothes, shoes, school supplies, bookbags, computers, computer parts, printers and more. South Carolina shoppers typically save about $2.8 million in sales tax during the event.

The popularity of the tax-free weekend has made it the third-busiest shopping period of the year, exceeded only by the weekend after Thanksgiving and the weekend before Christmas.

South Carolina adopted the sales-tax holiday in 2000 and in following years, Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee also have implemented similar tax-free weekends.

This year, North Carolina and Tennessee will hold their tax-free weekends at the same time as South Carolina. According to the Georgia Department of Revenue website, there will not be a back-to-school sales tax holiday in Georgia in 2010.

No new items were added to the list of exempt items this year and a complete list of the exempt items, and a listing of frequently asked questions about the event, is available at the South Carolina Department of Revenue website, www.sctax.org, under the "What's New" section.

What's exempt

Some of the items that qualify for the sales-tax exemption that begins at 12:01 a.m. Friday and runs through midnight Sunday:

--Bath towels

--Bed linens

--Bookbags

--Clothes

--Computers and printers

--Diapers

--Hats

--Purses

--School supplies

--Shoes

--Umbrellas

What's not

Some of the items that do not qualify for the exemption:

--Cameras

--Cell phones

--Cookware

--Cosmetics

--Furniture

--Jewelry

--Toys

--Wallets