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Why Georgia no longer offers a tax-free day for back-to-school shopping

The holiday went away in 2016

ATLANTA — Parents are looking for ways to save money and many are missing the tax free holidays that were once a back-to-school tradition in Georgia.

In Kennesaw, at the School Box store, shelves are filled with items like crayons, books, and markers. However, parents like Tonya Morgan can't find everything.

Morgan moved to the area from a state that offered a tax free holiday on school supplies only to find that doesn’t exist in Georgia.

“They’re asking us to contribute to not just the students but also for the teachers,” said Morgan. "I think doing away with the tax free weekend is an extreme hardship.”

The tax break that lasted more than a decade in Georgia was a delight for taxpayers but a burden on the state. It all ended in 2016 when the state legislature declined to approve it for another year.

Now, the owner of the School Box explained most people have moved on.

“People’s thoughts are on other things,” said David Persson. “I think they’re much more worried about gas price savings and food.”

A 2011 Georgia State University study found the holiday cost the state somewhere between $36 and $50-million in lost tax revenue. State Representative John Corbett supported continuing the holiday for the sake of taxpayers but told 11Alive there was no data to prove it stimulated additional spending or created additional jobs.

A spokesperson for Georgia House Speaker David Ralston said, “the General Assembly has focused in recent years on cutting the tax burden across the board on Georgia families.”

Another parent, Tammy Stephens, lives in Northwest Georgia, less than an hour from the Tennessee line. That state that still offers a tax free holiday.

“Sometimes it’s incentive to drive that extra 45-minutes to not get taxed,” Stephens said.

While other states continue to provide a back-to-school tax break, in Georgia the holiday has become a nice memory.

    

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