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Sales Tax Breaks May Return

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – Sales tax-free weeks are making a comeback in Erie County.

Erie County Executive Joel Giambra and members of Republican majority say the County plans to issue the sales tax exemptions the weeks of August 26 and January 23.

The last time the county issued sales tax free weeks was in 2000. But now lawmakers says sales-tax holidays will return.

The county will exempt sales tax on clothing and footwear under $110.

Giambra said sales-tax free weeks boost the local economy.

"We've been told by the retailers it's more effective by doing this twice a year than year round," said Giambra.

"It gives them the opportunity to promote and advertise and get people excited about the opportunity. So from a retailers perspective they think this is better than having it year round."

The Erie County Legislature still needs to approve the measure and lawmakers say that should happen at Thursday's session.

Dates for the sales-tax free weeks would then occur, first during the "back to school" shopping season, and again in January when retailers tend to experience a drop in sales after the holidays.

Erie County Legislator Dale Larson said it's a great savings for consumers.

"If you have $8.25 left from your $100 shopping day your going to take what's left over and probably spend it - maybe on a movie or at a restaurant where we would collect the sales tax on it," said Larson.

"So, it does have an inherit ability to raise more revenue that people wouldn't ordinarily spend and they get more for their dollar that way."

The county executive said at some point he would like to "eliminate Erie County's additional one-percent" that boosts the overall sales tax rate to eight percent.

But Giambra said that could only happen if the state takes over the county's mandated costs of medicaid.