I Love the Sales Tax Holiday!
I stand to respectfully yet strongly disagree with my colleague Sarah Brodsky, over her arguments against the sales tax holiday. The state sales tax holiday occurs each year sometime in August before schools start, and is targeted toward items people need as they prepare to go back to school. Items exempt from the sales tax include school supplies, clothes under a certain amount, computers under a certain amount (these amounts are subject to change), and so on. You don’t get a tax exemption for luxury clothes, top-of-the-line computers, etc. I think this idea is a great one and I wish the state did not allow individual cities and counties to opt out.
When I worked for Kurt Odenwald at the St. Louis County Council, he led the fight to have St. Louis County opt in, and thereby exempt its sales tax along with the state’s for the weekend. As I recall, St. Louis City also opted in because St. Louis County did, and the city and county then saw an increase in sales for their businesses as shoppers came over from Illinois to shop that weekend in Missouri.
Sarah is completely right when she writes that tax policy should be broad-based, fair and consistent. And I agree that it would be preferable to just lower the sales tax slightly year-round instead of exempting it for a weekend. However, this is one case to me where the practical trumps the theoretical. It would be nice to lower the tax year round, but that is not happening. A sales tax holiday is happening, and I think it benefits Missouri consumers and businesses. And if it puts a slight hurt on some municipal budget, you can imagine how much I care about that. About this much.