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Wednesday, August 4, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 64, Issue 162

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Texas to enjoy its first 'tax holiday'

By Jim Parsons
News Editor 

Merchants and consumers across the state are gearing up for Texas' first "sales tax holiday," set to take place Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

"Just in time for back-to-school, Texans are getting a much-needed break," said Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, author of state legislation that calls for $506 million in consumer and business tax cuts.

"The money parents will save from the tax holiday could mean a free pair of khakis or blue jeans, a free skirt or just more money in Texans' pockets," Ellis said.

The legislation mandates a three-day tax holiday for Texans every August on shoes and clothing items priced at below $100, saving consumers an estimated $70 million. Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Florida have similar tax-free days.

Texas' combined sales tax rate is 8.25 percent, among the highest in the nation. According to consumer advocates, high sales taxes affect lower-income citizens the most.

"Too often, when the Legislature starts cutting taxes, the little guy is left out," Ellis said. "The sales tax holiday will give a break to the Texans that need it most, when they need it most."

The tax holiday will begin at stores across Texas at midnight Friday and will end at 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

Items that will be tax-free this weekend include baby clothing, belts, caps, dresses, jeans, pants, shirts, most shoes, tuxedoes and underwear.

Notable exceptions include backpacks, work boots, handbags, jewelry, leather goods (except belts and apparel) and roller blades.

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