The annual sales tax holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. Aug. 1 and ends at midnight Aug. 3. Items that are considered "back to school purchases" qualify for the tax exemption from state, county and local taxes. These include clothing, personal computers and school supplies. In both the New Madrid County and Scott County portions of Sikeston, shoppers can expect to save about eight cents per dollar of items purchased.
However, there are limits to how much can be bought in each category. The taxable value of an article of clothing cannot be more than $100; personal computer and computer accessory purchases cannot exceed $3,500, and software purchases cannot exceed a taxable value of $350. No more than $50 may be spent on school supplies.
Cities and counties can opt out of participating in the sales tax holiday. In New Madrid and Bloomfield, city sales tax will still be collected, while in Stoddard County, county sales tax will still be collected.
Even with limits and exceptions, the tax free weekend is a "point of relief" for many residents making back to school purchases according to Missy Marshall, executive director of the Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce.
With the rising prices of fuel and food, "everybody needs a little bit of help right now," she said. Marshall also noted that not having to pay sales tax can make a difference for a family in assisting with other purchases.
Bill Dickherber, manager of J.C. Penney's in Sikeston, agreed.
"It gives the consumer a chance to stretch his dollar," he said.
"I think it's a real boost to the economy, especially to educators. It means a whole lot to them," Roger Craft, owner of Craftmasters Kidsmart, said. Teachers may use the sales tax holiday to buy supplies for their classrooms, as long as the items are bought with their own funds.
New Madrid resident Cindy Nowell said the holiday is even more important this year with everyone under the "money crunch." The holiday couldn't have come at a better time for her, after her computer was struck by lightning last month. A friend bought a computer during a previous tax free weekend and recommended she do the same.
Marshall noted that the tax free weekend isn't only beneficial to consumers; it helps area businesses as well.
"If you're a store that carries more than just clothing or just school supplies, typically the majority of the time people will end up buying something else that isn't covered (by the sales tax)," she said.
While the tax free weekend can be a boost to the economy, it's also a boost to people's spirits.
"If the community is feeling better about itself for three days, it's worth it," Marshall said.