tax free

Jonathan Whittington, a sales associate at the Staples in Athens, stocks backpacks in preparation for the upcoming tax-free holiday weekend. In addition to parents seeng tax savings and storewide sales, teachers who shop the Athens location this weekend will receive a free gift.

It's that time of year again when families from across Limestone County just about break the bank trying to get their children ready for the upcoming school year.

This weekend, the state of Alabama, cities and counties will help relieve some of that financial strain by giving shoppers a tax break on qualified back-to-school items. Alabama is one of only 16 states in the country to offer a school supply tax holiday

The city of Athens adopted the tax holiday ordinance April 9, while the county passed the measure April 2.

“We pass it every year because it is the right thing to do,” said Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks. “We look forward to the weekend because it helps save our our parents, grandparents and foster parents some money while they get their kids ready for school.”

Starting at 12:01 a.m. Friday, shoppers won't have to pay sales tax on clothing under $100, computers under $750 and other school supplies under $50. The sale ends at midnight Sunday.

According to a list provided by the Alabama Department of Revenue, soft goods like backpacks, shoes and underwear are tax free whereas jewelry, sunglasses and wetsuits are not. When it comes to electronics, computer printers and supplies, personal assistant devices and data storage items are included in the deal but cellular phones, non-educational video games and furniture are not. To see if the items on your back-to-school list are tax exempt go to https://bit.ly/2mmYppx.

According to Melissa Warnke of the Alabama Retail Association, July is often a slow month for retail stores in Alabama, and the association hopes the tax-free weekend will boost sales for its 4,200 members. The sales tax holiday is the second-busiest shopping season of the year, with the Christmas season being the busiest.

In the past, the city of Athens has seen very little or no drop off in sales tax revenue as a result of the tax holiday, Marks said.

“With all the additional traffic that the holiday brings in, we have actually seen the opposite because we see an increase in revenues from non-exempt items,” he said.

Whether the city sees a surge in revenue or not, the mayor said it's about helping area families.

“It's expensive to get kids ready for school,” Marks said. “Some families are getting two, three, four kids ready for school. For others this may not be the best financial time and this gives them a little break.”