Annual tax holiday set for next weekend in Tuscaloosa

Katherine Martin

The fifth annual sales tax holiday will begin Friday, Aug. 6 and continue through Sunday, Aug. 8 at midnight, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox said at the City Council Meeting Tuesday.

“This is an excellent opportunity to purchase certain items, such as school supplies, computers and clothing free of sales tax,” Maddox said. “It not only helps our local businesses, but boosts our own city’s revenues.”

Councilwoman Cynthia Lee Almond said since other counties in Alabama participate in the tax-free weekend, the council agreed Tuscaloosa should to keep back to school shoppers in the city.

“We’ve always been concerned that we’d lose sales tax revenue,” Almond said. “Fortunately that hasn’t been the case.”

Rick Huffmaster, co-manager of Wal-Mart on Skyland Boulevard, said the store absolutely sees more shoppers during the sales tax holiday.

“For that weekend, we bring in more employees and order more supplies,” Huffmaster said.

Huffmaster said depending on what the shoppers buy, they save various amounts of money.

“If you’re only going to spend $100 dollars, you’ll only save about nine dollars,” Huffmaster said, “but, if you’re going to buy an expensive computer or other electronics, you could save about $90.”

Items exempt from the nine percent sales tax include clothing and shoes under $100, computers and computer software under $750 and school supplies under $50, according to the Alabama Department of Revenue.

A detailed list of everything that is exempt and what might not be exempt in certain cases is available on the Alabama Department of Revenue website.

Lauren Wells, a junior majoring in nursing, said she usually does not go shopping during the tax-free weekend because she doesn’t spend enough money to save very much and the stores are crowded.

“If I were going to be saving money on textbooks for my classes then I’d absolutely go [shopping],” Wells said, “but, because there is a limit of how much the books can cost, it doesn’t really help me at all.”

Books priced under $30 are exempt from taxes, according to Linda McKinney, director of the Tuscaloosa revenue department. McKinney said, because of the timing, she thinks the tax holiday is aimed more at parents with several children in grades Kindergarten through 12th grade.

Stacey Fleenor, a Tuscaloosa resident and mother of two elementary school children said she also stays away from the shops during the tax holiday because of the crowds.

“It’s a good thing, but the stores get way too crowed and run out of supplies,” Fleenor said, “and a lot parents get their supplies ready before the tax holiday because school starts so early.”