Sales Tax Weekend Boost for Biz, Consumers

By Andy Meek

Mignonne Wright is looking forward to this weekend. Friday, Aug. 3, kicks off the state’s yearly three-day sales tax holiday that can fuel a boost in business for retailers that carry certain clothing, school supplies and computers.

Wright is the owner of MacAdvantage, an Apple Specialist store in East Memphis, at 4860 Poplar Ave. This will be her store’s first experience with the sales tax-free weekend, and she’s expecting a boost in sales, particularly of iPads.

During the weekend, according to the state, computers with a purchase price of $1,500 or less and that won’t be used in a trade or business are exempt from tax. Laptops that meet that price threshold also qualify, as do tablets.

Any individual can make a tax-free purchase during the holiday. Items purchased for use by a trade or business aren’t exempt.

The state’s first sales tax holiday was in 2006 and it saved Tennesseans about $15 million, according to figures from the state. Since then, Tennesseans have seen $8 million to $10 million in tax savings with each holiday.

Tax-free items include clothing with a price of $100 or less per item, school and school art supplies with a price of $100 or less per item and computers with a price of $1,500 or less.

These items are exempt from state and local sales tax in Tennessee during the holiday.

“Traditionally, MacAdvantage was always closed, because we were a Monday through Friday business,” Wright said. “We opened Oct. 27, so we did not get to have the no-tax weekend last year. This will be our first one, and we’re really excited about it.”

The store last year was chosen by Apple Inc. to be an Apple Specialist for superior customer service. The store carries basically every Apple product except iPhones, and the store is authorized to do warranty work for Apple, meaning computers that are covered don’t have to be shipped for repairs.

Jim Brown, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, notes that Tennessee’s weekend is likely to be a big help to families and small businesses still recovering from the recession.

“The sales tax holiday is like the day after Thanksgiving,” Brown said. “It gets people fired up and in the mood to shop, and that’s exactly what our economy needs right now. “The more we can increase consumer spending at our small businesses, the more jobs we save, and the faster our economy will recover.”

Wright is anticipating good things for MacAdvantage, because sales tax weekend falls amid the general “back to school” shopping bonanza. That’s partly why she’s anticipating a boost in people buying computers for students.

“We really think the Macbook Pro is going to be a hot item,” she said. “It’s got the largest storage capability and college kids especially are using that storage space more and more. The iPad WiFi-only version also is going to be hot.

“It’s just going to be an awesome, awesome weekend.”