Sales Tax Holiday Begins Friday
The state budget ax nearly fell on the annual August sales tax holiday earlier this year, but Moore County shoppers will be glad this weekend that North Carolina lawmakers reconsidered.
Tax exemptions on certain items go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday (tonight) and will last through 11:59 p.m. Sunday.
The General Assembly briefly mulled canceling the holiday to help balance the budget, a move that would have put about $17.3 million into the state's coffers. But lawmakers decided to make cuts elsewhere to close an $800 million gap.
The N.C. Retail Merchants Association has suggested that states actually gain money by offering a sales tax holiday. It cites a 2009 study done in Florida that concludes, "The Back to School Sales Tax Holiday also generates more labor and fiscal income than it costs the state."
Ajala Van Dyke, manager of Staples off 15-501, is glad that Moore County families struggling in a down economy will benefit.
"We have brought in extra quantities of laptops, desktops and printers to support the event," Van Dyke says. "The store is fully stocked with other back to school items as well. Binders are here. Backpacks are here. Everything is here. We're ready."
She adds that Staples prepared for the event by launching "a huge online campaign" that included e-mail blasts to existing customers.
"That's the one thing that we have done differently this year," Van Dyke says. "We've also been distributing coupons and promoting some one-day events."
The holiday offers a break from the 6.75 percent sales tax rate in advance of the beginning of the school year.
Sales and use taxes will not apply to clothing costing $100 or less per item, sports or recreational equipment costing $50 or less per item, computers costing $3,500 or less per item, computer supplies costing $250 or less per item, school supplies costing $100 or less per item, and school instructional materials costing $300 or less per item.
"We're expecting a rush," says Erica Andrews, manager of Peebles department store in Aberdeen. "We've been trying to promote things by passing out a coupon book, and all of our clothing departments are fully stocked."
That will likely lessen one of the most common problems related to the holiday - buying items that qualify but are in limited supply. Rain checks are not eligible for the savings, so shoppers are out of luck if a store runs out of items that qualify for the exemption.
However, if a qualifying item is available and a customer wants to put it on layaway during the holiday, then the customer would benefit.
Although the holiday has annually been billed as a "back-to-school" event, anyone can take part because the discounted items include many that may not appear to be school related.
North Carolina is one of 18 states offering sales tax holidays this year, up from 16 in 2009, according to the Federation of Tax Administrators.
The N.C. Department of Revenue notes that participation in the tax holiday is mandatory for retailers. Clothing accessories, jewelry, cosmetics, protective equipment, wallets, furniture, items used in trade or business, and rentals are not covered by the sales-tax exemption.
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at email@example.com.
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