My Pulse News

Mena Arkansas News covering Polk County and the surrounding area

State Capitol Week in Review

By Senator Larry Teague

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas will hold its annual sales tax holiday on Saturday, August 3, and Sunday, August 4.

The legislature created the sales tax holiday by approving Act 757 of 2011.  The intent was to help families with children in school, and was popularly called the “Back to School” sales tax holiday when it was being discussed at the Capitol. Everyone benefits from the holiday though, whether or not they have children of school age.

Clothing and footwear that cost less than $100 per item will qualify for the exemption. Keep in mind that if you buy an item that costs more than $100 you must pay the state and local sales taxes on the entire amount.

Here’s an example provided by the Department of Finance and Administration: a person buys two shirts for $50 each, a pair of jeans for $75 and a pair of shoes for $125.  The sales tax will only be collected on the shoes.  Even though the total price of the shirts and the jeans added up to $175, no sales tax will be collected on them because each individual item cost less than $100.

Accessories costing less than $50 qualify for the exemption.  Examples include wallets, watches, jewelry, sun glasses, handbags, cosmetics, briefcases, hair notions, wigs and hair pieces.

School supplies also qualify, including binders, book bags, calculators, tape, paper, pencils, scissors, notebooks, folders and glue.

Textbooks, reference books, maps, globes and workbooks will be exempt from sales taxes.  So will art supplies needed for art class, such as clay and glazes, paint, brushes and drawing pads.

Bathing suits and beach wear will be exempt as long as they cost less than $100 per item. Diapers and disposable diapers will not be taxed.  Boots, including steel toed boots, slippers, sneakers and sandals will be exempt from the sales tax as well.

Not exempt from the sales tax are sporting goods, such as cleats and spikes worn by baseball, soccer and football players.  Recreational items such as skates, shoulder pads, shin guards and ski boots will be taxed.  Computers, software and computer equipment are not exempt and you will have to pay sales taxes if you purchase those items on the holiday.

Act 757 provides that the sales tax holiday will be the first weekend of August every year.  All retail stores are required to participate and may not legally collect any state or local sales taxes on qualified items during the tax holiday.

Broadband Access for Schools

The scope of digital learning is rapidly expanding, not just in higher education but also from kindergarten through grade 12.

Act 1280 of 2013 recognizes the growing importance of digital learning.  It requires public schools and charters to offer at least one digital learning course, beginning in the 2014-2015 school year. Beginning with students who will be ninth graders in 2014, each high school student must pass at least one digital learning course as a requirement for graduation.

The Quality Digital Learning Study Committee, created by the legislature earlier this year, held its first meeting to find solutions for the growing need of Arkansas schools to build and maintain more broadband capacity.

The committee will assess the infrastructure needs of Arkansas schools to determine which ones have and are using bandwidth for all students to take online courses, and which schools lack the capability to do so.

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