Comptroller touts Md.'s sales tax-free week as jump-start to fall shopping

August 06, 2012|By CALEB CALHOUN |
  • This year's sales tax-free week in Maryland runs from Aug. 12 to 18, during which there is no sales tax on footwear and apparel costing less than $100.
By Colleen McGrath/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot was at Hagerstown Premium Outlets Monday to raise awareness of this year’s Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week, during which there is no sales tax on footwear and apparel costing less than $100.

This year’s tax-free week runs from Aug. 12 to 18.

“We believe this plays a big role in jump-starting fall shopping,” Franchot said. “It gets people out of summer vacation mode.”

The footwear and apparel include any type of shoes and any articles of clothing that cost less than $100, according to Kim Frum, public information officer from the comptroller’s office. Accessories such as belts and jewelry are not included.

Franchot said the tax-free week, which comes before schools go back into session, causes a 10 percent increase in retail sales.

Maryland’s tax-free week is a result of legislation passed by the Maryland General Assembly in 2007, and it was implemented in 2010. Maryland is one of 17 states that have tax-free periods, Frum said.

“This helps get a lot of foot traffic into shops that some people otherwise may not go into,” Frum said. “It’s any store, and shopping locally will help your community.”

In Washington County, retail has a larger employment base than manufacturing or distribution, said Tom Riford, president and chief executive officer of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Retailers are the largest private-sector employer in Maryland, with more than 400,000 people working in that industry, according to a news release from the Maryland Retailers Association.

Patrick Donoho of the Maryland Retailers Association said the tax-free week benefits retailers.

“It brings people out to shop, and they may not necessarily just buy clothing and shoes,” Donoho said. “They might buy other things and then pay sales tax. It also keeps the business local.”

Donoho added that the tax-free holiday helps working families who are struggling financially.

“It’s been a rough few years here for us, and people are watching their pennies,” he said. “This is a real important event for them.”

A focus of the week is on back-to-school clothes. The National Retail Federation reports that parents on average will spend $246.10 on clothes for their youngsters this year and $129.20 on shoes, according to the news release.

Jason Miller, 35, of Hagerstown, said he will go shopping for his seven children during the designated tax-free period, but he said it will not make a major difference.

“I look for whatever they want,” he said. “I may get a few cents off, but if they want it, I’m going to get it anyway.”

Martinsburg, W.Va., resident Kathy Wright, 51, said she will probably shop in Maryland during the tax-free week.

“Everything’s so expensive, so you take what you can get,” she said. “I’ve usually bought $100 worth of stuff.”

Jeanne Glennie, 81, of Hedgesville, W.Va., said she had not heard about the tax-relief week but said she might drive to Maryland to take advantage of it.

“Anything is helpful,” she said. “I’ll look for shirts and slacks, but it all depends on whether or not I like what I can find.”

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