OKLAHOMA CITY – One newspaper called it “a great idea for Oklahoma families, and one of the most taxpayer-friendly moves the State Legislature has made in decades,” a statement proven by Oklahomans.
The state’s first “Back-to-School” sales tax holiday exceeded expectations across Oklahoma, with retailers showing record business and families getting a real tax break they could see at the cash register.
Senator Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant, fought for years to pass the law that removed the sales tax on clothing and footwear costing less than $100 last weekend. The lawmaker said the state’s economy got an incredible boost as Oklahomans, and visitors from other states, flooded retailers.
“The weekend was a tremendous success,” Gumm said. “Oklahomans had a great opportunity to save money and they took advantage of it, spurring increased economic activity across Oklahoma. Most importantly, though, families got a real tax break on one of the biggest annual expenses: back-to-school clothes.”
The “Back-to-School” sales tax holiday removed the state, county and municipal sales tax on articles of clothing and footwear costing less than $100. The holiday began at 12:01 a.m., Friday, Aug. 3 and ran through midnight, Sunday, Aug. 5.
According to news reports from across the state, retail groups and chambers of commerce put together promotions to make the most of the three-day shopping event. Retailers also brought on more staff to prepare for the increased activity.
“That certainly was the case in my district,” said Gumm, who represents the area surrounding Lake Texoma. “Many of the retailers with whom I spoke said their sales exceeded expectations and the shoppers I saw told me this made a real difference in their family budgets.”
The Oklahoma law was based on the Texas “Back-to-School” sales tax holiday, and was originally planned to be the same weekend as the Texas event. However, two weeks after the Oklahoma law was signed, the Texas Legislature moved the Texas event to Aug. 17-19, meaning Oklahoma had the first weekend in August all to itself.
As a result, many retailers reported Texans crossed into Oklahoma to make back-to-school purchases, giving Oklahoma an unexpected boost. Also, in northern parts of Oklahoma, retailers reported many Kansas residents crossed the state line to take advantage of the holiday.
“The sales tax holiday performed exactly as many of us predicted,” Gumm said. “We kept Oklahomans shopping in our hometowns, we kept our economic strength at home, and we boosted our economy. Also, we saw folks from out-of-state spending money in Oklahoma, giving our state an even larger economic ‘shot-in-the-arm’.”
The lawmaker concluded by saying groups and individuals that opposed the sales tax holiday for many years were proven “dead wrong” this weekend.
“We had a great weekend for retailers, and cities and counties will see increased tax revenues,” he said. “Most importantly, we helped Oklahoma families stretch their back-to-school dollars farther. It makes you wonder why anyone would have ever opposed this common sense policy.”