Back to School Lifeline
Almost killed off, the sales tax holiday gets new life where it all started —Houston's downtown Macy's
It was at Houston's downtown Macy's (then Foley's) store that Governor George W. Bush signed the omnibus tax relief bill that established the state-wide sales tax holiday in 1999. So it was fitting that State Senator Rodney Ellis, the program's creator and champion, joined state representative Ana Hernandez Luna at Macy's to kick off the 2011 sales tax holiday.
Covering clothes, footwear, backpacks and select school supplies up to $100, Texas comptroller of public accounts Susan Combs estimates that the tax holiday will save Texans $62.1 million this year. (A full list of included items is here.)
Ellis said he had originally hoped to make the holiday last two weeks, or at least two weekends, and would like to see it expand to cover items like computers. But the senator said that keeping it in the budget at all in the recent legislative session was a battle. Conservatives originally marked the 2012 tax holiday to be cut to raise revenue as part of a measure to fill a $3 billion budget hole. The move sparked opposition from shoppers and retailers.
"It's been a difficult job to protect it," Ellis said.
Ellis says the holiday is an important boost to families during difficult economic times, with low income families spending eight percent of their income on state and local sales tax, four times the percentage affluent families spend.
Do you take advantage of the tax holiday weekend? What are your back-to-school shopping plans this year?