Sales-tax bonus

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The figures aren't compiled yet, but there is every reason to believe that Missouri's first sales-tax holiday provided a tax bonus -- just as had been predicted when legislators, led by state Sen. Peter Kinder of Cape Girardeau, approved the three-day opportunity to forgo sales taxes.

Tax holidays have become routine in many other states where retailers see a spike in sales and governments see increases in tax revenue despite not collecting taxes on certain items likely to be purchased during back-to-school sales.

Missouri's tax holiday apparently had the same impact. Some retailers described the three days as being as busy as the Christmas season, which is always the busiest time of the year for most stores. Extra workers helped eased the crush, and retailers and shoppers alike had smiles on their faces.

While many shoppers were able to take advantage of tax savings for certain items, they also tended to make purchases that weren't exempt. Stores that heavily promoted special sales to coincide with the tax holiday got a double bang out of the three-day event.

And stores near state lines, like those in the Cape Girardeau area, also attracted thousands of shoppers from neighboring states who also got a break on paying sales taxes in Missouri for selected items.

Give the general success of Missouri's tax holiday, there will be plenty of good reasons for governmental entities that opted out of this year's tax holiday to participate in the future -- provided, of course, that the Missouri Legislature decides to continue the once-a-year bonus based on this year's experience.

Many legislators, like Kinder, would like to see the tax holiday become an annual kickoff for the opening of schools around the state. Now that we know how successful a tax holiday can be, let's hope that happens.

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