A favorite back-to-school ritual is the state sales tax holiday. This year, 11 states will waive the tax between now and the beginning of September, for two days up to a week. While clothing and school supplies are the most frequent exempt items, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Missouri forgo taxes on sports and computer gear. Of participating states, Texas has the highest sales tax, 6 1/4%; Georgia and New York are the lowest, at 4%. But local tax levies may still apply. So in Atlanta, for example, you'll still pay 1% on exempt items.
Corrections and Clarifications
In ``The taxman takes a breather'' (Plus, Aug. 1), we incorrectly stated that Atlanta residents would pay a 1% city tax on otherwise exempt items during the Georgia state sales tax holiday, July 28-31. All Georgia counties will waive their local taxes during the holiday, so Atlanta residents will pay no sales taxes on exempt clothing, school supplies, and computers priced under $100, $20, and $1,500, respectively.
A farm wouldn't be the first place you'd think to go for a gourmet meal. But a growing number of farms and vineyards are setting up tables in their pastures with white linen and fine china and hosting public dinners featuring local produce, meats, and wines. The dinners, usually preceded by a tour, are a way for growers to attract new customers and earn money beyond farmer's markets and vegetable-of-the-month clubs. They also promote the virtues of organically grown local foods. Outstanding in the Field, based in Santa Cruz, Calif., sponsors dinners across the country (outstandinginthefield.com), while Plate & Pitchfork (plateandpitchfork.com) organizes open-air meals in the Portland (Ore.) area. Meals range from $75 to $160 per person.
If you have hay fever or prefer an enclosed setting, more farms are operating on-premises restaurants and inns. You can find them through state agriculture departments and farmers' groups, such as the New York State Agriculture & Markets Dept. (agmkt.state.ny.us), Vermont Farms Assn. (vermontfarms.org), and North Carolina Agriculture & Consumer Services Dept. (ncagr.com).
If you find economics inaccessible behind all the jargon and page-long math equations, go to SmartEconomist.com. The site offers book-report-type reviews of new research in economics and finance, sortable by topic. Working papers are summarized in less than 1,000 words and deciphered by academic economists with minimal jargon. The research is also far from esoteric: Topics run from how emerging nations' imports affect the U.S. to brand advertising on the Net. Right now, it's free, but there are plans to turn it into a subscription site.
One of Washington's newest attractions, the National Museum of the American Indian, will host a National Powwow from Aug. 12 to 14. It's the second confab of tribes organized by NMAI, which opened last September on the Mall. The event, to be held at the nearby MCI Center, will showcase music, dance, and crafts of Canadian and U.S. tribes (americanindian.si.edu). For a taste of Native American culture in New York, NMAI's George Gustav Heye Center at One Bowling Green features 19th-century paintings of American Indians by George Catlin through Sept. 5.