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Sales tax 'holiday' signals school year
Monday, July 28, 2014
By DOUG POWELL - Staff Writer
Schools in Henry County and Martinsville will start the new school year Aug. 11, and the Virginia Department of Taxation is helping consumers get ready.
Starting Friday, the “School Supplies and Clothing” sales tax holiday — one of three sales tax holidays in Virginia each year — will begin. It will continue through Sunday.
According to the Department of Taxation’s website, purchases of qualifying school supplies selling for $20 or less per item and purchases of qualifying clothing and footwear selling for $100 or less per item will be exempt from sales tax — 5.3 percent of the cost of price — this year.
Retailers may choose to absorb the tax on other items, but they are responsible for paying the tax on those items, the department website adds.
Lee Ann Hundley, store manager of Roses, of Martinsville, said she expects a large turnout this year in her first tax-free weekend with the store.
“We’ll probably see about somewhere between 700-800 people per each day of the weekend,” she predicted.
That’s about 250 more people than a typical weekend, she added.
Marshall’s, at Liberty Fair Mall, also is preparing for its first tax-free weekend at the store, which opened in October, and it is “hopeful” for an increased customer turnout, manager Sara Thomas said.
“It definitely (will) drive sales,” Thomas said. “I think people (will be) out shopping more so maybe people who haven’t been to our store yet would come and give us a chance on tax-free (holiday).”
Many questions rise from consumers on what qualifies for the exemption during the weekend. The state of Virginia defines school supplies as “items that are commonly used by a student in a course of study.” Art supplies, instructional materials and music supplies qualify. However, computers and computer supplies/accessories do not.
Some stores, such as the Roses, will help its customers who have questions during the weekend.
“We’ll put up bulletins around the store letting the (customers) know what is and is not available for the tax-free (holiday),” Hundley said. “We’ll have it posted on the door (too).”
Qualifying clothing is “any article of wearing apparel and typical footwear intended to be worn on or about the human body,” according to the state website.
On the tax-free weekend, Hundley said she expects clothing will be the biggest selling item for her store.
“Most of that is what the kids need — more (clothes) — more than they do the pencils and things,” Hundley said. “(Pencils) are rather cheap anyway so (the customers) go for the more expensive things so they don’t have to pay the taxes on it.”
The taxation department website mentions that qualifying clothing does not include items that are not meant for “everyday wear,” such as sporting equipment or footwear designed primarily for athletics or protective use.
Thomas said she has seen more things added to this year’s tax-free list in her clothing department.
“Just a lot more trendier kids outfits,” Thomas said. “We got some really cute kid’s little leather jackets in this week and more on-trend (items).
“... Kid’s clothes, backpacks, lunch boxes. Everybody is getting ready,” she added. “(Students) go back so early here in Martinsville; it’s right around the corner.”
A complete list of what is considered “tax-free” during the holiday weekend is on the department’s website at www.tax.virginia.gov. Individuals who have more questions can visit the “frequently asked questions” section of the website as well.
The sales tax holiday will begin at 12:01 a.m. Friday and end at midnight Sunday. Any residents of Virginia or elsewhere can make tax-free purchases at a Virginia store during that time. North Carolina no longer holds a tax-free back-to-school event.
“It’s always a big weekend for back to school,” Thomas said. “... I would say come early because we are going to get crowds.”