Teachers upset over Georgia ending tax free holiday

By Don Logana - bio | email

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - In just a few weeks people in South Carolinia will be shopping tax free, but don't expect the same in Georgia.

Georgia lawmakers put an end to the sales tax break. Many people have mixed feelings about not having a tax free weekend.

Ringing up savings, now a thing of the past for parents waiting for Georgia's tax free holiday.

This year, it's not happening.

"My family. My child. We used it and bought a lot. So I think it will hurt," Martha Bristow told WTOC.

Bristow is a retired teacher and a mother. Joanne Callahan is a teacher already shopping for school supplies.

"I don't think it's a bad move, but we always have to be considering the families. Families with three and four children. When you try to buy shoes clothing and school supplies, the income tax holiday is a big help to a lot of people," Callahan told WTOC.

"When our state is so financially strapped it is ridiculous to offer a sales tax holiday," Sally Blaine, Barrett's Education Supplies, told WTOC.

Blaine she thinks the benefits of a tax free holiday are minimal for her business. "Yes, it will impact our customers, somewhat,  however there are other things the state has taken away that have hurt teachers more than a little seven percent sales tax on a three day weekend," she said.

"Decision have to be made and we had to decide if we were going to furlough people, cut jobs or stop this program," Georgia State Senator Buddy Carter told WTOC.

Carter says the tax free holiday, along with the $100 gift card for teachers to be used during tax free weekend, got the ax this year too. Total savings for the state could be about $13 million.

However, carter is not ruling out a return, and is hoping some people don't run to South Carolina for savings.

"If we get into better times and see where we can impliment it again, certainly, we will go that route," Carter said. "Hopefully people are going to keep their business in the state of Georgia."

"That's a common sense thing," Blaine said. "You gonna crank up your car and drive to South Carolina,  you will spend a lot more than the 7 percent you save in sales tax."

But some people are already saying they will do just that. Bristow's not so sure the holiday needed to be dropped at all.

"Honestly, I think the money is there somewhere," she said.

Clearly this is issue has folks attention, if the WTOC Facebook page is any indication. Check out the comments: www.facebook.com/wtoc11

Ann Eason singer wrote on Facebook, "considering how many furloughs our teachers are having to take, if this will help education in the state of georgia, then I'll gladly pay sales tax."

But others like Brian Arnold say, "pure madness. I am a fan of spending my money locally, but the state is making it hard on this one. Oh well, South Carolina shall get my money."

Adrian Godbee-Opper writes, "taxes pay teachers. Finally, a smart decision from our state government. Maybe the state employees won't see any additional furlough days to the ones they currently have to deal with."

South Carolina's annual back-to-school sales tax holiday is scheduled for August 6 through August 8.

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