It’s a tax-free weekend

    HARLINGEN — You’ve been waiting for this weekend to get the tax-free holiday exemption on purchases, right?

    On that new convertible? The red one you’re going to drive the kids to school in?

    Nice try.

    The Texas Legislature has set this year’s Sales Tax Holiday for this weekend from Friday through Sunday, and there are limits on items that do (i.e. school clothes, backpacks) and don’t (i.e. fancy new cars) qualify for the tax exemption.

    The special back-to-school tax holiday was created by lawmakers in 1999 when they decided to give parents a break when buying shoes and clothing for their kids.

    Every year since, it’s been one of those end-of-summer mileposts in Texas as parents rush off to outfit their kids for the new school year.

    Across the state, it ends up being a significant weekend of savings for parents. This year, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar projects it is going to save parents $92 million.

    In Harlingen, for example, parents will save 8.25 percent on purchases of exempt school items over the three-day holiday.

    “The exempted items are things that nearly every Texas family will buy during the year,” said state Rep. Rene Oliveira, D-Brownsville. “It’s an opportunity to take advantage of some savings while we can.”

    Oliveira, who now serves as chair of the House Committee on Business and Industry, has been on board with the tax holiday from the very beginning.

    He was joint author of the legislation passed in 1999 which created the tax holiday.

    Oliveira also was chair of the tax-writing House Committee on Ways and Means in 2009 when it expanded on the tax-free shoes and clothing concept to include the long list of tax-exempt items we have today.

    “School supplies are essential purchases for Texas families,” Oliveira said. “They truly deserve to be exempt.”

    Oliveira says the tax holiday on school items is good business not just for parents, but for retailers and even state tax collectors, odd as that may sound.

    “When people buy more, they are also more likely to purchase taxable goods that can offset the losses from increased exemptions,” he said.