ALPHARETTA - The search for a corset to go beneath her wedding gown brought Michelle Maltin to Lingerie Mart, but the back-to-school sales tax holiday that began in Georgia on Thursday kept her there for more than two hours.
'No tax is an advantage. Plus I'm getting married,' Maltin said, giggling. 'I shouldn't be spending money, but I like it so I buy it.'
Georgia is one of 15 states that host sales tax holiday weekends that coincide with the back-to-school season. Over four days, Georgia's 4 percent sales tax and all local taxes are waived on clothes, computers and other school items.
The list also includes some items that have little to do with education: lingerie, corset laces, garter belts, bras and hosiery. At least nine other states with sales tax holidays specifically name lingerie as tax free. All of the states, and the District of Columbia, declare underwear as exempt.
Georgia state Rep. Jan Jones, who co-sponsored the latest version of the law, isn't quite sure how lingerie became a part of the tax holiday. She gasped when told that garter belts are on the list.
'No, that can't be right,' Jones said.
Mothers-to-be, brides-to-be and nursing homes also will benefit, as baby clothes, wedding apparel and adult diapers made the list in most states.
Religious clothing makes the cut in Iowa.
Jones said she hopes these non-school related tax-exempt items will draw more than parents to the malls this weekend.
'The win is for the consumer who gets great savings at the cash register,' Jones said.
States with a sales tax holiday this weekend include Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. The District of Columbia has a tax-free week beginning Saturday.
Connecticut, Texas and Massachusetts will waive their state taxes later in August. Vermont held its holiday in July.
Massachusetts has the nation's biggest tax holiday with retail items less than $2,500 exempt from the state's 5 percent sales tax.
Georgia Department of Revenue spokesman Charles Willey said the holiday will cost the state some $12.6 million this weekend, and local counties will lose another $8.5 million.
Jones, however, said the holiday is needed amid the sluggish economy.
'During the height of the last recession and through this one, we continue to support it despite the decrease in state sales tax revenue because it helps retail sales,' she said. Many retailers offer sales, coupons and other promotional items to further entice consumers.
At the Lingerie Mart, a 15,000-square-foot warehouse, most customers were pleasantly surprised to hear about the tax holiday.
'I probably will end up buying more because of the tax-free weekend,' said Jessica Rowles, a 36-year-old who browsed aisles of fishnet hosiery, rhinestone G-strings and other intimate items.
That's what the chief executive of the lingerie store hopes. Steven Rapp was busy e-mailing frequent customers a 20 percent coupon to get them into the store this weekend.
'Does tax free really make a difference for our customer? No, not really because our customers come here anyway because they want lingerie,' he said. 'The tax holiday is just an added bonus.'