Parents shopping for back-to-school clothes can draw a bit of a break at the cash register as the eighth annual sales tax holiday began at 12:01 a.m. today and runs through midnight Sunday.

The annual event drops state and local sales tax on back-to-school and work clothes, certain types of footwear and accessories, priced less than $100 per item.

Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn has proposed unsuccessfully to the state legislature to add school supplies and backpacks to the list of tax-free items, and also has proposed extending the length of the back-to-school sales tax holiday from three days to five and create a second Sales Tax Holiday during December.

Layaway plans can be used again this year to take advantage of the sales tax holiday.

In addition, the Palestine Junior Service League is hosting its sixth annual Back to School Fair from 10 to 2 p.m. Saturday at First United Methodist Church at 422 S. Magnolia St.

The Back to School Fair offers free school supplies, vision screening, immunizations, free dental supplies, fingerprinting and activities for children to area families with proven need of assistance. School-aged children who attend the fair will receive a free backpack.

The program is designed to help families who are eligible for AFDC food stamps, or the free or reduced lunch program.

Parents should bring proof of residency, such as a utility bill or mail postmarked during June or July, 2006; parent’s or legal guardian’s photo ID; and each child’s Social Security card or birth certificate and a case number for TANF, AFDC or food stamps. In addition, parents wishing to have their children immunized should bring their immunization records.

For more information on the Back to School Fair, call Holly Foye-West at 903-391-5794. The annual event is sponsored by the Palestine Junior Service League, Nucor-Vulcraft Texas and Office Depot.

For more information or for an extensive list of tax-free and taxable items visit www.window.state.tx.us or call 1-800-252-5555.

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