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Lawmakers consider sales tax holidays

MADISON (WRN)  State lawmakers are renewing a push for a plan to give consumers a pair of sales tax holidays in Wisconsin.

Under the bill, the first holiday would come during a weekend in August and would apply to back to school related purchases, such as clothing classroom supplies, and computers. The second would take place during the first weekend in November, and would shoppers a tax break on energy efficient products.

The state Department of Revenue estimates the pair of holidays would cost the state about $14.5 million a year in lost tax revenues. State Representative Chad Weininger (R-Green Bay), a sponsor of the bill, contends similar breaks offered by other states have had a neutral impact or have actually increased revenues because consumers still spend money on other products that are taxed while they are shopping. He also points out that many of Wisconsin’s neighbors do not offer tax holidays of their own, which could entice residents of those states to come and shop during those periods.

The bill is facing some criticism from Democrats, who consumers will only head out to buy products they had already planned on shopping for. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) and other Republicans have also described the proposal as nothing more than a gimmick, which could make it difficult for the bill to make it through his chamber of the Legislature.

During a hearing on the bill Tuesday at the Capitol, Weininger argued the plan will bring “welcome relief” to many middle class families in the state during what can be expensive times of the year for them. A Legislative committee is currently considering the proposal.