Ellis, Allen, Reynolds Kick-Off the Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday

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Legislators discuss tax savings and fairness at downtown Macy’s

(Houston, Texas)—Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) was joined today by Representatives Alma Allen and Ron Reynolds at the downtown Macy’s to kick-off the 2013 Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday, which runs August 17-19. The state officials were also joined by Regina Garcia, Vice President and Store manager of Macy’s Downtown and students from the Chinese Community Center’s Youth Empowerment and Pooh’s Panda Special Needs Academy.

“The sales tax holiday helps Texas parents stretch their dollars and better afford the clothing and school supplies they need to get their children ready for school,” said Ellis. “In these difficult economic times, the money parents save from the tax holiday could mean a free pair of khakis or blue jeans, a free skirt or just more money in their pockets.”

In 1999, Senator Ellis passed Senate Bill 441, a $506 million tax relief package which created the 3-day sales tax holiday, eliminated the sales tax on over-the-counter medicines and cut business taxes. The tax holiday is designed to give hard-working Texans a tax break on necessities such as back-to-school clothing. Since the annual August tax-free shopping began in 1999, shoppers have saved nearly $600 million on vital back-to-school items.

“During these tough economic times, a sales tax free weekend provides families the opportunity to save money on school supplies, backpacks and clothing items that the kids need to be prepared to start school,” said State Representative Ron Reynolds.

This weekend marks the 14th annual sales tax holiday in Texas.

Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Susan Combs predicts shoppers will save $64.81 million in state and local sales taxes during the Sales Tax Holiday, which takes place each year on the third Friday, Saturday and Sunday in August. A complete list of the tax exempt items can be found at the Texas State Comptroller’s website: www.texastaxholiday.org.

Senator Ellis rejected calls to raise the sales tax or eliminate the sales tax holiday and, instead, called for an expansion, urging the elimination of costly corporate loopholes — like the natural gas tax exemption — to help pay for it.

Texas gave away over $7.4 Billion in tax giveaways from 2004-09 to natural gas producers who already profit in the billions, because their lobbyists have been able to maintain an antiquated definition of “high cost” gas in the code. This ‘tax incentive’ was created in 1989 to help companies with the costs of drilling high cost wells, which made sense then, but now virtually every new well produced is a so-called ‘high cost’ well.

“We need to find ways to eliminate wasteful loopholes and increase tax fairness in Texas, not ways to increase the burden on those who can least afford to pay,” said Ellis. “We give tens of billions of dollars away in wasteful corporate tax giveaways. It is time to tighten up our books and provide tax relief to those Texans who really need it, not multi-billion corporations.”

The following is an all-inclusive list of qualifying school supplies (if priced less than $100):

Binders Book Bags
Calculators Cellophane tape
Blackboard chalk Compasses
Composition books Crayons
Erasers Folders; expandable, pocket, plastic, manila
Glue, paste and paste sticks Highlighters
Index cards Index card boxes
Legal pads Lunch boxes
Markers Notebooks
Paper (not computer) Pencil and school supply boxes
Pencil sharpeners Pencils
Pens Protractors
Rulers Scissors
Writing Tablets

From the Texas State Comptroller’s Website: www.texastaxholiday.org

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