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Comptroller visits Hagerstown, touts Shop Maryland Energy weekend

Beginning at 12:01 a.m. Saturday and lasting through midnight Monday, shoppers will not have to pay state's 6 percent sales tax if they purchase certain products with the Energy Star label

February 13, 2013|By CALEB CALHOUN
  • Curt Spicher, president of Spichers, demonstrates new washing machines to Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot Wednesday morning. The state is waiving sales tax on large appliances this weekend to stimulate sales. Franchot delivered a proclamation and used Spichers as a backdrop to announce the plan.
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

With the state sales tax exemption for qualifying Energy Star products set to take effect this weekend, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot was at Spichers Appliances and Electronics on Pennsylvania Avenue in Hagerstown on Wednesday to promote the third annual Shop Maryland Energy weekend.

“We find that Marylanders plan for months around this weekend,” Franchot said. “It’s hugely popular and very successful.”

Beginning at 12:01 a.m. Saturday and lasting through midnight Monday, shoppers in Maryland will not have to pay the state’s 6 percent sales tax if they purchase certain products that meet the energy efficiency requirements to earn the Energy Star label. Energy Star is a government-backed symbol for energy efficiency.

Tax free products include air conditioners, clothes washers, furnaces, heat pumps, boilers, refrigerators, dehumidifiers, programmable thermostats, and compact fluorescent light bulbs. Solar water heaters are tax exempt at all times.

Franchot said that the weekend is “good for the environment, it’s good for your pocket book, and it’s good for the local stores that employ our friends and neighbors.”

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He said the state can afford the loss in sales tax revenue of about $560,000 that is the result of the tax-exempt period.

“There is plenty of money to pay all the bills in the State of Maryland,” Franchot said. The problem, he said, relates to “family budgets and small businesses because we’re constantly reaching into people’s pockets and taking money out of them.”

On Wednesday, while promoting the weekend, Franchot recognized Spichers for providing “affordable appliances” to the area for 58 years. The store sells various items that would fall under the tax-exempt category this weekend.

Curt Spicher, president of Spichers, said that the store is taking advantage of the weekend by working with its manufacturers to come up with extra rebates so that some of the products could be up to 50 percent off.

“This is a sign of the times,” Spicher said. “When you have extra rebates and tax savings and you can go green at the same price or less, it’s a no-brainer.”

The store has green ribbons on its products with the Energy Star label.

Franchot said he contacted Spicher and Howard Cummins of Cummins Appliance in Pikesville, Md., as the two locations in the state to promote the weekend.

“Spichers is a third-generation Maryland business, a big success in Hagerstown and Washington County,” he said.

Hagerstown City Councilman Martin Brubaker and Washington County Commissioner Ruth Anne Callaham both were on hand for the event.

Brubaker described the Shop Maryland Energy weekend as a “triple-win.”

“It’s a shot in the arm for the economy,” he said. “Not only is the consumer saving money on their purchase, but they’re saving month after month when they buy energy-saving appliances,” and the community is using fewer resources.

Callaham added that the consumers help themselves, the environment, and the economy with such purchases.

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