Some­times, it pays to pro­cras­ti­nate

Record Observer - - 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 Tax-Free 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.

With many schools open­ing next week, 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 back-to-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.mary­land­taxes.com 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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