GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Merchants across Mississippi are preparing for what they hope will be two days of non-stop sales. The state's first sales tax holiday begins Friday at 12:01 am. Clothing that costs less than $100 eligible for the tax break. School supplies are not eligible. Neither are the back packs students use to carry those supplies.
At Emily Grace Etcetera on Landon Road, the two day tax holiday is not a very big deal. Ann Fore owns the children's boutique. She's just finding out which items in her store will be tax exempt. "Jewelry, I have jewelry, no," it's not tax exempt she said. "Hair bows, no."
Fore read from a sales tax holiday guide that came from the tax commission's website. It says racks of newborn and toddler outfits in her store will be seven percent cheaper on Friday and Saturday, as long as they're under $100. So will her shoes. But that's about it. "This seems like maybe it ought to be something for Christmas. Go out and buy clothes. It doesn't really have to do a whole lot with going back to school," thought Fore.
Here are a few illustrations of why she feels that way.
If you want to dress like a football player, buy a jersey Friday or Saturday because it will be tax free. However, if you want to play football, be prepared, because pads will be hit with Mississippi's seven percent tax.
Golf clothing, including caps, are tax free this weekend. But golf gloves will be taxed
Belts and suspenders qualify for the tax break. So do pajamas and most shoes. However, sales tax will be tacked onto the pair of sunglasses you purchase.
Even raincoats are tax free on Friday and Saturday. Yet, umbrellas will be taxed.
So will backpacks, and other non-clothing items sold at bigger department stores like Academy.
Billy Woods is one of the store's managers. "We're actually expecting a large turnout on Friday and Saturday," he said, pointing out that Academy would slash its backpacks by seven percent to offset the tax charge.
S.F. Alman's Ferrell Alman doesn't plan any sales over the tax holiday. He's preparing for a rather significant business rush on July 31 and August 1. "Yes, I'm excited, I mean the state of Mississippi is having a sale," Alman said. "Anytime you can give somebody a tax cut, that's going to stimulate the economy."
The author of the tax holiday bill was Jackson Senator Walter Michel. He's hoping that school supplies, and maybe even hurricane supplies, will eventually be added to the tax free menu. "Once everybody sees how popular it is, I think it's going to be a little easier to get additional legislation passed to include more items," said Michel.
Hattiesburg Representative Percy Watson says that will be determined after the weekend is over. "We would like to see how the first holiday weekend goes to see if it has any real effect on the general fund," Watson said Tuesday. "We would be acceptable to an expansion provided it doesn't get to the point that it has an adverse effect on the major revenue in our state."
After this year, cities will be given the choice to opt out of the tax free weekend. Those decisions will be made after tax receipts are added up, and cities determine if the tax break for shoppers hurt city budgets.