Pa. Gov. Ridge proposes "tax-free PC" holiday

Pennsylvanians soon will have two week-long opportunities to purchase personal computers tax-free, thanks to an initiative announced Thursday by Gov. Tom Ridge.

Ridge's "Tax-Free PC" holiday is designed to encourage residents to embrace technology in their homes. "It's so important for our children to have access to computers at a young age where they can learn skills that will carry them into the technology-driven work force of the 21st century," Ridge said in a statement. "And we want their parents and grandparents to feel comfortable using computers, too, so they also can enjoy the benefits of being online."

The tax-free holidays will give families who cannot normally afford the $1,800 average cost of a computer and related equipment to purchase them without having to pay the state's 6 percent sales tax.

"This tax cut would save our consumer more than $100 on that purchase," he said. "Plus, we hope to work with our retailers to create additional sales at the time of the tax holiday so consumers can save a lot more."

The fiscal impact to the state is expected to be $8.3 million in lost tax revenue, including $200,000 each for Philadelphia and Allegheny counties.

Ridge will formally introduce the sales tax holiday for computers during his budget address next week. "It will need legislative approval as part of the [overall] budget process, but we're pretty confident that will happen," said Ridge spokesman Steve Aaron.

The two opportunities for citizens to take advantage of the program will coincide with back-to-school season in August and the President's Day holiday in February of 2001.

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