Students Save During Sales Tax Holiday

Aug 7, 2009 7:38pm

ABC News On Campus Reporter Chris Badders Blogs:

Shoppers came out early Friday morning to take advantage of the sales tax holiday in North Carolina. From August 7 through August 9 the 4.5 percent state sales tax is suspended on items generally bought for back-to-school purposes.

To find out if your state has a sales tax holiday, click  HERE.

Justin Webb, a junior at UNC-Chapel Hill, waited until the start of the holiday to start shopping.

“Textbooks are expensive and I live so close [to the stores] it’s just convenient to wait to come buy then,” Webb said.

Earlier today Webb had saved about $12 to $15 on textbooks, and was planning to save even more on school supplies such as binders and pens.

But not all back-to-school shoppers are taking advantage of the holiday. Kate Milani, a soon-to-be freshman at UNC, said Wednesday the savings aren’t worth navigating the crowds.

“I wouldn’t wait for the tax-free weekend,” Milani said. “It’s too crazy for shopping.”

Beth Jordan, the mother of a junior at UNC, said she came to the stores early to save.

“So far I’ve saved about $10 to $15 dollars, and will probably save about $30 by the end of the day,” Jordan said. “We came out early to beat the crowds, but even if we had to deal with them it would be worth it.”

Kelly Hanner, the textbook manager at UNC’s student store, said her store has been preparing all summer for the sales tax holiday.

“We scheduled earlier shipments in order to have the largest inventory possible,” Hanner said. “The first shipments started arriving in early June.”

Matt Croom, the general manager at a Durham, N.C. Best Buy, said that his store has been stocking up items for about a month and planning for the weekend has been continuous.

“You have to come up with a plan that is specific for each customer in order to have structure and keep the chaos to a minimum,” Croom said. “You’d be surprised how many people come in wanting to save on sales tax.”

Some question the idea of having a sales-tax holiday in the midst of a shaky economy when many state governments are dealing with budget shortfalls.

Last year North Carolina reported an $18 million loss in tax revenue from their tax-free weekend according to Thomas Beam, spokesman for the N.C. Department of Revenue.

Several other states have tax-free holidays, and all have different rules on what is and isn’t tax exempt.

For example, computers less than $3,500 in North Carolina are tax free, while in neighboring Georgia only computers costing less than $1,500 qualify.  Go to Alabama and only a computer less than $750 qualifies for tax exemption.

Texas has held the tax holiday every year since 1999 and, according to R.J. DeSilva, spokesman for the Texas Comptroller Office, the state is staying committed to helping families.

“We listened to what families had asked for in past years as far as items they wanted tax free,” DeSilva said. “The motion to add school supplies just passed this past legislative session.”

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