Doreatha Johnson makes it a point each year to shop during Maryland's sales tax-free week whether for herself or some new school clothes for her grandchildren.
"It's a good opportunity to get some merchandise for kids going back to school at a reasonable price," said the Reisterstown resident as she was walking into the Westminster Kohl's Sunday. "I'm always looking for a good bargain."
Johnson was one of many shoppers to visit Kohl's Sunday, the first day of Maryland's annual tax-free shopping week, which spares consumers from the state's 6 percent sales tax on some items. Tax-free shopping continues through Saturday.
Just in time for back-to-school shopping, clothing and footwear, priced under $100, are exempt from the state sales tax. Accessory items, such as jewelry, watches, watchbands, handbags, handkerchiefs, umbrellas, scarves, ties, headbands, belt buckles and backpacks are not exempt during tax-free week.
School supplies are also not exempt from the state sales tax during the week.
While not everyone out shopping Sunday came particularly because it was tax-free shopping week in the state, they still appreciated the savings.
"Every little bit helps," said Sonja Wyatt, of Westminster, who was out shopping with her granddaughter for back to school clothes. "Every little bit you can save, you can buy something else."
Mary and Richard Zentz, of Westminster, weren't even aware that beginning Sunday sales were tax free until they visited Target Sunday afternoon to shop for some back to school clothes for their daughter Haleigh.
When asked if she was surprised by the money they saved on some items, Mary Zentz immediately pointed to her husband.
"He was happy about it," she said with a laugh.
Carroll County Chamber of Commerce President Mike McMullin said it's hard for him to tell if more people visit local businesses specifically because of tax-free week.
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Regardless of whether the initiative brings out more shoppers, the week is important for small business in Maryland.
"It's important for small businesses because, even if it's for a brief amount of time, this puts them on an even keel with business in surrounding states and makes them more competitive, sales-wise," McMullin said, particularly noting Pennsylvania, which does not tax all clothing items.
McMullin believes the state sales tax-free week is something that should be expanded or the state should consider lowering the sales tax altogether.
Marge Hummel, who normally shops during Maryland's sales tax-free week for either herself or her grandchildren, agrees with McMullin.
"I would normally go up to Pennsylvania and I'm not joking," said the Hampstead resident. "This week keeps me in [Maryland]."
For a complete list of exempt and taxable items, visit the state comptroller's website at http://www.marylandtaxes.com.
Reach staff writer Blair Ames at 410-412-4880 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.