St. Charles Herald-Guide

Sales tax holiday this weekend

By M. Susanne Hinkle - July 27, 2006

St. Charles Parish Schools and the St. Charles Parish Council will enact a sales tax holiday this weekend as a way of thanking the residents of the parish for their commitment to the parish and public schooling in the area.

The school board will foot the tax bill on physical consumer purchases on July 29 and 30.  This tax holiday is similar to the tax holiday passed in the special session in the 2005 legislature after Hurricane Katrina.

Other states, including Florida and Texas, have also provided a "sales tax holiday" prior to the beginning of the school year to assist families as they prepare for the beginning of school.  This has become a benefit not only to the local residents, but also to the local businesses as their sales have increased significantly during the tax free days.

Like the state "Sales Tax Holiday" that took place in December 2005, there will be restrictions on the types and costs of purchases that are eligible.  It would allow families to purchase consumer products of up to $2,500 per item without paying local sales tax.

“In an establishment like ours, no one buys $200 dollars in groceries,” said Linda Cashio, co-owner of Cashio’s Food Villa in Destrehan.  This small grocer says, “I believe that it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for small businesses. It is too costly and too much trouble for businesses to switch their registers over to accommodate the tax holiday.  No one cares about a five cent discount when shopping at a small grocery store.”

Realizing that all retailers in St. Charles Parish may not be capable of changing their cash registers to reflect the abatement in local sales taxes, customers may request a refund with the St. Charles Parish School Board.  The actual receipt and a valid driver's license will be required to obtain the refund.

Not all retailers view the tax holiday as a burden to business owners.  In establishments that sell goods in bulk, such as Wal-Mart in Boutte, the holiday is way to get customers in the store to shop for back to school supplies and have the parish pick up some of the tab. 

“The tax holiday is excellent for businesses in the parish.  It keeps shoppers in the parish rather than going into Kenner or Metairie to do their shopping.  I also think it will attract shoppers from outside to parish.  We are the only Wal-Mart in the area offering state tax free shopping and shoppers will be able to save on big and bulk purchases,” says Earl Cooney, Store Manager for Wal-Mart in Boutte.  “It is easy for us to switch over our registers to accommodate the tax holiday.  It is done automatically by the home office,” concluded Cooney.

This "Sales Tax Holiday" is the School Board's way of thanking the residents of St. Charles Parish for their support of the public education and providing assistance as parents prepare for the beginning of a new school year.