Tax-free shopping starts today

LAWRENCEVILLE - At exactly 12:01 a.m. today, Georgia consumers will not have to pay sales tax on selected items.

But act fast.

At exactly midnight Sunday, the deal ends.

Gov. Sonny Perdue, who signed the sales tax holiday into law in May, said the four-day respite is intended to ease the pain of back-to-school shopping.

"I encourage parents, students and teachers to take advantage of this weekend's sales tax holiday to purchase those much-needed supplies," Perdue said in a statement. "Past experience shows that many retailers offer additional discounts and sales that add up to even more savings for back-to-school shoppers."

According to the Georgia Department of Revenue, the sales tax exemption applies to purchases from the following categories:

· Articles of clothing: The exemption applies to articles of clothing and footwear with a sales price of more than $100 or less per item. Clothing accessories such as handbags, umbrellas, cuff links, handkerchiefs, jewelry, key cases, wallets, watches, watch bands, and ponytail holders and/or similar hair products are not exempt.

· Personal computers: A single purchase of $1,500 or less of personal computers and/or related accessories is exempt. If the single purchase exceeds $1,500, the entire transaction is taxable.

· General school supplies: The exemption applies to the purchase of general school supplies with a sales price of $20 or less per item.

The Georgia Department of Transportation says it will curtail construction-related lane closures today through Sunday to ease public access to major retail venues during the state's sales tax holiday weekend.

Each day from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m., there will be no construction-related lane closures on interstate and state highways within a five-mile radius of a shopping mall or major retail shopping district, with the following exception:

· Lane closures will be permitted on Interstate 75/85 (the Downtown Connector) throughout the weekend to accommodate the Connector resurfacing and 14th Street Bridge Improvement projects.

· Lane closures will be permitted outside the five-mile radiuses throughout the weekend; within those radiuses, necessary closures also will be permitted overnights from 10 p.m. until 8 a.m.

SideBar: If you shop

For full list of exempted and excluded items, visit www.dor.ga.gov/salestax/