State tax holiday set for weekend

The county treasurer calls the tax-free days an “accounting nightmare.”
Thursday, August 12, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:22 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Friday through Sunday a statewide sales tax holiday for some back-to-school items will allow shoppers to take a slightly smaller hit to the pocketbook, but shoppers in Columbia and Boone County won’t save as much as those in some other Missouri cities.

Missouri will lift its 4.22 percent sales tax on clothing items, school supplies and computer software and supplies under a certain dollar amount. Each individual item of clothing cannot exceed $100 to receive the tax break, but there’s no limit on the total for clothing purchases. For computer and school supplies, the total purchased amount cannot exceed $2,000 and $50, respectively.

Columbia and Boone County governments have opted out of the tax holiday and will still be charging city and county sales tax. Shoppers will pay 3.125 percent sales tax this weekend on the selected items instead of the regular 7.35 percent. St. Louis and Kansas City are both participating and will lift city tax as well as state tax.

Boone County Treasurer Kay Murray considers the bill “an accounting nightmare.”

“Personally, I think they’ll spend as much money making the plan work as they’ll save the taxpayer,” Murray said.

Murray said that Boone County opted out because the county sales tax accounts for 61 percent of the $39.3 million budget for county government, and the county doesn’t want to lose the revenue. Sales tax accounts for more than 35 percent of the $90 million annual budget for the city of Columbia.

Business owners received letters sometime in the past week detailing which items are exempt and which items are not.

Co-owner of Columbia Computer Center Jerry Hyde posted his letter for customers to see.

“I’ve got the letter posted on the door,” Hyde said. “I want everyone to get the best advantage they can. My big worry is the proof. It’s supposed to be for school use, but I don’t know how we’re supposed to distinguish this. At any point, anyone could walk in and say it’s for school use.”

Jessica Robinson, spokeswoman for the state Department of Revenue, said consumers do not need to prove that items are for school use because the law does not specify that the tax holiday is only for back-to-school items.

“The timing was coordinated with back-to-school shopping,” Robinson said. “But the language of the law is not that it is only for back-to-school items.”

Lisa Logan, assistant manager at American Eagle Outfitters in Columbia Mall, said her store is adding additional staff in anticipation of a big rush.

“We expect to be super busy,” Logan said. “Anything that generates business is definitely a good thing.”

Logan has a 12-year-old daughter and a 10-year-old son and plans to do some shopping with them this weekend.

“We are looking forward to it,” she said. “I have some shopping to do to finish up for my kids to go back to school, and I might as well wait until Friday or Saturday to do it. Every little bit helps.”

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