Tax holiday kicks off with one-hour spree
This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 7, 2009 - One hundred St. Louis area middle school students raced to beat the bell to kick off the Missouri Sales Tax Free Holiday. The students shopped for one hour with a $100 gift card for school supplies at 9 a.m. Friday, at the Maplewood Walmart.
The winning students were chosen from hundreds who submitted short essays on why they think school is cool. The top 100 essayists are participating in the shopping spree. Each student's $100 gift certificate is being matched with a donation to KidSmart - Tools for Learning. Kidsmart, a local nonprofit, provides free school supplies to teachers who teach economically disadvantaged students. Right before the shopping spree, Walmart officials were to present KidSmart representatives with a $10,000 check.
Several local cities are opting out of declaring a tax holiday for the city portion of the sales tax. On large purchases, sometimes shopping around will pay off.
Cities opting out of the sales tax holiday are:
Ballwin, Bellerive Acres, Berkeley, Beverly Hills, Black Jack, Brentwood, Bridgeton, Charlack, Clayton, Cool Valley, Des Peres, Edmundson, Ellisville, Fenton, Ferguson, Frontenac, Greendale, Kirkwood, Ladue, Manchester, Maplewood, Northwoods, Richmond Heights, Shrewsbury, St. Ann, Town & Country, University City (though some stores in the Delmar Loop are offering deals), Velda Village, Webster Groves.
Missouri's sales tax was being waived on qualifying items, including computers, software clothing and other school supplies. The 4.225 percent sales tax won't be charged on
- computer equipment up to $3,500;
- software up to $350;
- school supplies that combined do not cost more than $50;
- the first $100 paid on an item of clothing.
Some items are specifically not included, such as watches, umbrellas, jewelry, sports equipment, copy machines and neckties.
Consumers won't be able spread out the purchase of a single item in installment payments, but they can spread out the purchase of several items among many stores for more savings.
Many cities, though, have opted out of this year's program and will continue to charge local taxes, which can range from 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent. (See sidebar).
The Sales Tax Free Holiday will end at midnight, Sunday, Aug. 9. For more information on the Missouri Tax Free Holiday, visit http://dor.mo.gov/tax/business/sales/taxholiday/school/ .
Missouri is one of 14 states participating in this year's back to school sales tax free holiday. Other states with tax holidays include Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. Illinois is not, and some local communities have been running ads urging citizens to support their home towns by shopping locally.