Some­times, it pays to pro­cras­ti­nate

Cecil Whig - - OPINION -

Some call it “Mary­land Pre­tends to Be Delaware Week,” but Mary­land Comptroller Pe­ter Fran­chot is fully sup­port­ive of it, and there’s still plenty of time to take ad­van­tage of it.

We’re talk­ing about Shop Mary­land TaxFree Week, which started Sun­day and lasts through this Sat­ur­day, Aug. 20. Dur­ing this pe­riod, se­lected cloth­ing and footwear items are ex­empt from Mary­land’s 6 per­cent sales tax.

Most schools in Ce­cil County open Mon­day, Aug. 29, so it’s per­fectly timed, of course. Stu­dents need new clothes and shoes, and fam­i­lies can save money. Sounds like a win- win sit­u­a­tion.

“Shop Mary­land Tax-Free Week is a great op­por­tu­nity to get deals on back- to- school clothes or to re­fresh a tired wardrobe,” Fran­chot said in a state­ment. “Dur­ing th­ese tough eco­nomic times, hav­ing a break from the 6 per­cent sales tax on shoes and cloth­ing can make a real dif­fer­ence for fam­i­lies, en­abling them to save more of their hard-earned money.”

Qual­i­fy­ing ar­ti­cles of cloth­ing $ 100 or less are ex­empt from the sales tax no mat­ter how many items are pur­chased at a sin­gle time. For ex­am­ple, a shop­per could buy two qual­i­fy­ing items for even $ 95 each and would still re­ceive the waived sales tax de­spite the to­tal amount ex­ceed­ing $100.

And if a busi­ness is sell­ing an item that doesn’t qual­ify for the tax ex­emp­tion, that re­tailer can still of­fer the items with­out the sales tax as long as it pays the tax owed to the state for the cus­tomer.

The Mary­land Gen­eral Assem­bly passed leg­is­la­tion in the 2007 spe­cial ses­sion al­low­ing for a tax- free week to oc­cur the sec­ond week of Au­gust ev­ery year. At that time, state law­mak­ers also in­sti­tuted a three- day week­end in Fe­bru­ary for cer­tain En­ergy Star Prod­ucts, such as air con­di­tion­ers, fur­naces, de­hu­mid­i­fiers and LED light bulbs.

“Back- to- school shop­ping is the sec­ond big­gest shop­ping sea­son for re­tail­ers,” Mary­land Re­tail­ers As­so­ci­a­tion spokesper­son Tom Saque­lla said in a state­ment. “Tax- Free Week has be­come a wel­comed op­por­tu­nity for con­sumers to save on cloth­ing and footwear as they pre­pare for the new school year, and also for adults look­ing to buy some­thing from the new fall cloth­ing lines. Tax- Free Week is a won­der­ful gift pro­vided ev­ery year to Mary­land tax­pay­ers, and you can count on Mary­land re­tail­ers to do their part with great sales and pro­mo­tions.”

Though the sav­ings may be aimed for backto- school shop­pers, the sales do not in­clude school sup­plies as tax- free items. Ac­ces­sories, such as jew­elry, watches, hand­bags, belt buck­les, back­packs and ties, do not qual­ify.

See www.mary­land­ for an ex­ten­sive list of what qual­i­fies and what doesn’t.

If an item is pur­chased dur­ing the tax- free week but is re­turned af­ter the week fin­ishes, no ad­di­tional tax will be due if the item is ex­changed for the same item but is a dif­fer­ent size or color. If the item is re­turned for store credit on the pur­chase of a dif­fer­ent item, the cus­tomer will pay the full sales tax for the new item. If the item is pur­chased be­fore the tax- free week and is re­turned dur­ing the week for store credit on dif­fer­ent items, the cus­tomer does not have to pay the sales tax.

So for those who have put off back- to- school clothes shop­ping un­til the last minute, this might turn to be the one time it pays to pro­cras­ti­nate.

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