Tax-free weekend isn't really tax-free in most mid-Missouri cities
COLUMBIA - Back to school means Missouri's sales tax holiday, but most mid-Missouri cities and counties opt out.
Clothing, computers and school supplies are exempt from the 4.225 percent Missouri state sales tax Aug. 3-5.
Cole County Commissioner Sam Bushman said the county and Jefferson City are not taking part.
"We have never chosen to participate in it," he said.
Bushman said the city and county could really use the money the sales tax brings in, especially with how conservative the new Jefferson City budget is.
"We use all of our tax dollars we collect very wisely, and I think we really do need the money it does generate," he said. "We have a lot to take care of. We have 500 miles of roads and seven or eight communities in Cole County."
Bushman is the owner of Samuel's Tuxedos in Jefferson City. He said his customers don't even notice the difference most of the time.
"I tell my clientele, 'Oh, you've saved four percent today' and they go, 'Really? Why?,'" he said. "So I think we are so used to paying taxes that it doesn't really mean anything to my customers either way."
Missouri State Treasurer Eric Schmitt said in a press release he encourages Missourians to take advantage of the tax-free weekend.
"The beginning of the school year comes with significant financial challenges for many Missouri families," he said. "The sales tax holiday provides significant tax relief."
The tax holiday was made a law in 2003. It does have some limits.
- An article of clothing cannot exceed a taxable value of $100.
- School supplies are not to exceed $50 per purchase and graphing calculators are not to exceed $150.
- Computer software cannot exceed a taxable value of $350 and personal computers or computer peripheral devices cannot exceed $1,500.
Bushman said the fact customers have to pay city and county sales tax doesn't drive them away.
"They're not going to come in and say 'Oh, I have to pay 3.5 percent? I'm not gonna buy it. I'm gonna go somewhere else and buy it or buy it online,'" he said. "It's really a non-issue."
Visit the Missouri Department of Revenue's website to see the full list of cities and counties in Missouri opting out of the tax-free holiday.