By Kaitlin Fleming, Staff Correspondent
Alabama’s 14th annual sales tax holiday for school-related items began at 12:01 a.m. today, July 19, and ends at midnight Sunday, July 21.
This tax break gives shoppers the opportunity to purchase certain school supplies, computers, books and clothing without the Alabama’s four percent sales tax.
The following items are tax exempt:
Art supplies. Clay and glazes, paints, paintbrushes and drawing pads will be tax free.
Books. Required textbooks on an official school list with a sales price between $30 and $50 are covered, and books less than $30 each are exempt as well.
Clothing. All human apparel is tax free, so long as each article is $100 or less. That includes belts, shoes, hats, coats, diapers, jeans, shirts, scarves, neckties and socks, as well as gym suits and school uniforms.
Electronics. Laptops, desktops and computer packages are exempt so long as they are no more than $750. Software is also exempt, as well as computer storage media, printers, printer supplies and handheld electronic schedulers. Cell phones are not exempt.
School Supplies. All school and office supplies are exempt so long as each item is no more than $50. This includes binders, book bags, notebooks, paper, pens, pencils, crayons, folders, calculators, lunch boxes, book bags, pencil sharpeners and protractors.
The average cost of the minimum school supplies per grade ranges between $40 and $80. This does not include the cost of clothing or shoes.
School supplies are not cheap, especially when you must buy supplies for several children, as Tabitha Bozeman, a mother of four, professor and department chair for Gadsden State Community College will tell you.
“I do not think of it as a hardship, al-though it adds up really quickly with four kids,” said Bozeman. “I feel like our schools have done a really good job of paring supply lists down to essentials, as well as limiting fees. Because I know many teachers end up buying supplies out-of-pocket.”
Bozeman’s husband Jason, a teacher for Etowah County School System said he understood that teachers must buy some items for students.
“I understand having to buy certain items for the kids,” said Jason Bozeman I don’t have a problem with that. I feel for the teachers who have to beg for sa-nitary items like paper towels and hand sa-nitizer.”
This weekend isn’t just helpful for pa-rents and teachers. This is also a great opp-ortunity for citizens to stock up and donate to local organizations.
First Federal Mortgage, ERA King Realty, The Etowah Baptist Missions Cen-ter, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Alabama, SPAN of Etowah County, Boys & Girls Club of Gadsden/Etowah County, United Way and many more organizations are accepting school supply donations. The Boys & Girls Club has partnered with Five Below retail store in East Gads-den and will have a donation box set up outside the store until August 9 and The Messenger newspaper will have a box inside its office on Rainbow Drive for SPAN until August 1.
SPAN has asked for copy paper, lead pencils, pens, backpacks, sanitation wipes, facial tissues, hand sanitizer, dry erase markers, binders, filler paper and spiral notebooks.
If you or someone you know is in need of help, call United Way’s 211 office, which maintains a list of agencies and groups that will be giving away supplies and the dates of those giveaways.
Many counties and municipalities have opted to waive their sales taxes on school-related items as well, which lessens the financial burden of back-to-school purchases.
Etowah County is participating in the tax-free weekend as well as the mu-nicipalities of Gadsden, Attalla, Glencoe, Hokes Bluff, Rainbow City, Southside and other surrounding areas, which means those who choose to shop in Etowah County will pay zero sales tax.
For a full list of participating counties and municipalities, along with more details on what is tax exempt, visit https://alabamaretail.org/resources/salestaxholidays/back-to-school.