House Bill 796, sponsored by South Georgia lawmakers, stalled in the chamber during the 2018 session.

Does Georgia have a back-to-school sales tax holiday?

If you’re waiting until the sales tax holiday to buy your child’s back-to-school supplies and outfits, then your wait has been over for three years.

Georgia has not had a sales tax holiday since 2016.

The tax holiday began in the early 2000s. It was discontinued briefly when the state was feeling the crushing financial weight of the Great Recession and couldn’t afford it, but it made a comeback for several years before it was killed again in 2017.

Lawmakers have to approve legislation allowing them because one back-to-school weekend of tax-free shopping costs state and local governments about $70 million in lost revenue.

Both the conservative Washington-based Tax Foundation and the left-leaning Georgia Budget & Policy Institute have said the holidays are terrible tax policy, do little or nothing to spur the economy and often provide minimal benefit to shoppers.

The Tax Foundation put out a report in 2016 saying the tax holidays merely shift when people who were already going to buy back-to-school items make their purchases. The group also says some retailers raise prices during the holiday, which reduces savings.

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