Tak­ing a break from the 6% so­lu­tion

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

Some might call it “Mary­land Pre­tends to Be Delaware Week,” but Comptroller Peter Fran­chot is fully sup­port­ive of it. That’s be­cause it ben­e­fits busi­nesses while sav­ing con­sumers some money at the same time.

We’re talk­ing about Shop Mary­land Tax-Free Week, which starts this com­ing Sun­day, Aug. 13, and lasts through Satur­day, Aug. 19. Dur­ing this pe­riod, se­lected cloth­ing and footwear items are ex­empt from Mary­land’s 6 per­cent sales tax.

It’s well timed for back-to-school shop­pers in Charles County. Thanks to an ex­ec­u­tive order last year by Gov. Larry Ho­gan (R) — in per­fect bi­par­ti­san lock­step with the Demo­cratic comptroller’s urg­ing — most pub­lic schools in the state now open the day af­ter La­bor Day. That gives shop­pers plenty of time to try on new out­fits. Stu­dents need new clothes and shoes, and fam­i­lies can save money. Sounds like a win-win sit­u­a­tion.

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.

Also, 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.

New this year is the ad­di­tion of back­packs and book bags to the list of tax-ex­empt items, al­though it only ap­plies to the first $40 of the pur­chase. See www. mary­land­taxes.com for an ex­ten­sive list of what qual­i­fies and what doesn’t.

In an­other twist to Shop Mary­land Tax-Free Week, Fran­chot has joined with the Mary­land Re­tail­ers As­so­ci­a­tion in a con­test on so­cial me­dia. There will be two win­ners statewide. One will get a $1,500 schol­ar­ship to any Mary­land univer­sity col­lege or trade school; the other will get a $500 schol­ar­ship. Shop­pers are en­cour­aged to fol­low Shop Mary­land Tax Free on Face­book and @shop­md­taxfree on Twit­ter and In­sta­gram. Take a photo in the spirit of the week and sub­mit it with a cre­ative cap­tion, us­ing the hash­tag #shop­md­taxfree. The MRA will judge the en­tries and pick the two schol­ar­ship win­ners.

“This year, Mary­lan­ders can not only save money dur­ing tax-free week, but they have the op­por­tu­nity to win a big schol­ar­ship, while sup­port­ing lo­cal busi­nesses, all with a few clicks on their phone,” Fran­chot said in a state­ment.

It’s been a decade now since the Mary­land Gen­eral As­sem­bly passed leg­is­la­tion in a spe­cial ses­sion al­low­ing for a tax-free week to oc­cur the sec­ond week of Au­gust ev­ery year. And the comptroller’s of­fice and the MRA have been pleased to see the results.

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

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