Editorial: Consider expanding tax break for school supplies, too
Aug 19, 2012 at 12:34 PM
It may be unseemly, when given a gift, to ask for more. But for struggling families, it would be nice to get more with regard to the Maryland's August gift to shoppers — a week to buy clothing without sales tax.
Maryland Tax Free Week ended Aug. 18. During this week, shoppers didn't have to pay the state's 6 percent sales tax when purchasing clothing and shoes priced under $100.
The scheduling of the week in August is not random. The tax break is geared to coincide withback-to-schoolshopping, the most important sales season for retailers except for Christmas.
In Maryland, one of 18 states offering tax-free shopping periods, retailers report that the tax-free benefit has boosted sales 8 to 12 percent in the past two years.
For parents, outfitting their children to return to the classroom usually means more than clothes. Students also need — in some cases, are required to have — an array of supplies, from notebooks to backpacks.
According to the National Retail Federation, people buying items for children from kindergarten to grade 12 spend an average of $688 during theback-to-school season.
Of that amount, about half goes to shoes and clothes.
Some other states tailor theirback-to-schooltax relief accordingly. Some states give breaks on school supplies and backpacks; some even offer sales tax abatement for certain computers.
State Comptroller Peter Franchot recently expressed some hope that Maryland's program could be expanded down the road. In a Baltimore Sun story, he was quoted as saying the state's effort is "too narrow right now."