Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

CNHI/SE Iowa

August 2, 2013

Sales tax holiday begins Friday

OTTUMWA — Getting ready to go back to school? This weekend is designed for you.

The Iowa sales tax holiday kicks in today and Saturday, giving consumers a break on many items they may be picking up for the school year. Iowa's sales tax of 6 percent is suspended on all clothing and footwear that sells for under $100.

Tim Kurtz, director of the Ottumwa Area Chamber of Commerce, said the weekend is a sort of kickoff to the back-to-school shopping season. But the relatively early date can take some people off guard.

“Sometimes this kind of sneaks up on people,” he said.

It's not just the state's sales tax that gets knocked off. The Iowa Department of Revenue says local option sales taxes are suspended for qualifying items as well.

The rules are simple for the most part. It's aimed at everyday clothing, not sports equipment or high-end fashion. The individual items purchased must sell for less than $100 to qualify. But items that sell as a group or pair (think shoes or suit sets), can't be split up to qualify.

The exemption isn't cumulative. You can buy as many clothing items that sell for $99.99 as you want, and none of those would trigger the sales tax. But you can't use a coupon or rebate to drop the price of an item below $100 and avoid the tax.

Kurtz said recent years haven't seen the kind of boost retailers would hope for. In fact, “the last couple years, sales have been flat.”

There's reason to think the same might be true this year. The National Retail Federation predicts the average family will spend $634.78 on back-to-school items. That's down about 8 percent from last year but up from both 2010 and 2011.

That concern has led some retailers to push awareness of the event, said Kurtz. But the comparatively limited scope of the sales tax break means it isn't a concern for every business.

Text Only
CNHI/SE Iowa
  • 0425 OTT eagle stock photo Mahaska Co. man accused of killing bald eagle NEW SHARON — A Mahaska County man faces federal charges after allegedly beating a bald eagle to death and decapitating it. Jason John Thomas was arrested in New Sharon after being indicted by a federal grand jury. He is accused of killing the eagle i

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Affirmative action ruling challenges colleges seeking diversity

    The U.S. Supreme Court's support of Michigan's ban on race-based affirmative action in university admissions may spur colleges to find new ways to achieve diversity without using racial preferences.

    April 23, 2014

  • A 'wearable robot' helps her walk again

    Science is about facts, numbers, laws and formulas. To be really good at it, you need to spend a lot of time in school. But science is also about something more: dreaming big and helping people.

    April 23, 2014

  • Cuba is running out of condoms

    The newest item on Cuba's list of dwindling commodities is condoms, which are now reportedly in short supply. In response, the Cuban government has approved the sale of expired condoms.

    April 23, 2014

  • The waffle taco's biggest enemy isn't McDonald's. It's consumer habits.

    Gesturing to Taco Bell, Thompson said McDonald's had "not seen an impact relative to the most recent competitor that entered the [breakfast] space," and that new competition would only make McDonald's pursue breakfast more aggressively.

    April 23, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 4.42.47 PM.png VIDEO: Leopard attacks crowd in India

    A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • The top 12 government programs ever

    Which federal programs and policies succeed in being cost-effective and targeting those who need them most? These two tests are obvious: After all, why would we spend taxpayers' money on a program that isn't worth what it costs or helps those who do not need help?

    April 22, 2014

  • In cuffs... 'Warlock' in West Virginia accused of sexual assault

    Police in West Virginia say a man claiming to be a “warlock” used promises of magical spells to lure children into committing sexual acts with him.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cats outsmart the researchers

    I knew a lot had been written about dogs, and I assumed there must be at least a handful of studies on cats. But after weeks of scouring the scientific world for someone - anyone - who studied how cats think, all I was left with was this statement, laughed over the phone to me by one of the world's top animal cognition experts, a Hungarian scientist named Ádám Miklósi.

    April 22, 2014

  • McCain 1 House Republicans are more active on Twitter than Democrats

    Your representative in the House is almost certainly on Twitter. Your senator definitely is. But how are they using the social network? Are Democrats more active than Republicans, or vice versa? Who has the most followers on the Hill?

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo