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Oregon, Howell opt out of tax holiday

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Some went to Arkansas. Some to Springfield or Kansas City. But Oregon and Howell County merchants did not profit as much from this year's back to school sales tax holiday. Under Missouri law, cities and counties can choose not to participate in the holiday. That means that, while no sales tax is charged for school supplies and clothing, local taxes are still collected in cities and counties who choose not to extent the holiday tax break.

The statewide "Back to School" sales tax holiday exemption took place Friday, Aug. 3 through Sunday, Aug. 5. Oregon and Howell Counties are among 166 cities and 49 counties in Missouri that chose not to participate in the holiday.

In 2005, the state legislature passed the tax exempt holiday for one year, to see how consumers and businesses would react to it. In 2006, the sales tax holiday became a yearly event for the state. Government agencies were sent forms to indicate whether they would participate in the holiday. Oregon and Howell Counties opted out, after passing ordinances requiring that local taxes be collected during the holiday weekend.

According to Missouri Department of Revenue records, Oregon County has not participated in the sales tax holiday since 2006. Oregon County Southern District Commission, John Wrenfrow said, "Tax is the main revenue for our county, so we simply can't afford to participate."

Many Oregon County residents appear aware that they do not get the full benefit of the sales tax holiday by shopping locally. Some indicated they traveled to Arkansas to shop to avoid paying any sales tax on back to school purchases. The tax exemption weekend was shorter in Arkansas, beginning on Saturday, Aug. 4 and continuing through Sunday, Aug. 5.

In both states, tax exempt items include clothing, school supplies and certain other items defined by the statute. Only purchases for personal use qualify for the tax exemption. Also a commonality between the states' tax exemption holiday is that an item of clothing cannot exceed $100. A difference in policy is that, in Arkansas, computer purchases are not tax exempt.

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