Keating says he wants tax holiday

Wednesday, August 9th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY – Gov. Frank Keating says he will propose a sales tax holiday as part of his 2001 legislative agenda to try to combat the loss of revenue from a similar back-to-school tax holiday in Texas.

Over the weekend, Oklahomans joined Texans in shopping for clothing and shoes without having to pay local and state sales taxes. Retail stores were jammed.

An official report on the weekend won't be out until October, but last year people bought more than $400 million in tax-exempt clothes and footwear in Texas for a savings of more than $32 million in taxes, said Sheila Clancy, spokeswoman for the Texas comptroller's office. The projected savings this year is about $34 million. The Texas holiday covers clothing and footwear priced up to $100.

"Get busy in February and send me a sales tax holiday measure and we can have it signed and on the books in time for next fall's back-to-school shopping, and keep those dollars in Oklahoma," Mr. Keating said Monday.

A bill for such a holiday passed the House and Senate but died in a conference committee.

"I would hate to estimate how many millions of dollars this cost Oklahoma retailers," Mr. Keating said.

"Retailers are the backbone of communities across the state and we must do what we can as a state to assist them."

Retail Trades Commission Chairman Tommy Nabors tried out the idea last year and helped to expand it this year.

Steve Smith, an economics professor at Rose State College, said the overall economic impact of a tax holiday is relatively insignificant. He said a tax break would primarily help low-income families and that "it's really an equity issue."

He said Texas' tax holiday probably doesn't cost Oklahoma merchants too much, and one wouldn't bring in much business to the state.