Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week is almost here.
The week-long event omits sales tax on particular items throughout the state. Clothing and shoes under $100 as well as the first $40 of a backpack are eligible to be sales-tax free from Sunday, Aug. 11, through Saturday, Aug. 17.
“It’s a win-win for both the retailers as well as taxpayers and families who are trying to save money while getting their kids and students ready … for back to school,” said Susan O’Brien, director of the office of communications Comptroller Peter Franchot (D). School supplies are not included in the tax-free week.
In addition, for a third year, the Maryland Retailers Association will be sponsoring a $2,500 and $1,000 scholarship for college students.
To enter, students who are out shopping must take a selfie, create a catchy caption, tag #shopmdtaxfree and post the photos on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. The winner will be picked by the Maryland Retailers Association.
For many stores, the week means increased revenue and foot traffic. This also applies to small and local businesses. “It increases awareness about shopping local and our members really, really appreciate it and like it,” said Cailey Locklair, president of the Maryland Retailers Association. “Use the week. It’s there for a reason. Save some money and shop local.”
O’Brien also stressed the importance of small businesses in Maryland. “We really love to support our local, local-owned businesses because they’re the ones that give back to the community so nicely and they’re the ones who, you know, live with you guys, and shop and go to school and go to church and sponsor the little leagues,” O’Brien said.
La Plata’s Centerpiece Boutique & Design is just one of the many small businesses that benefit from tax-free week. “I think that it’s going to be really good for just the whole town in general because it’ll bring people out to La Plata,” said Julie Dotson, owner of the boutique. Centerpiece, which opened in 2013, hadn’t planned any special events for Tax-Free Week in years prior, but is taking a different approach this year. Dotson said they will be offering refreshments, giveaways and a preview of their fall collection.
Prince Frederick-based Brackish Waters is also among local small businesses affected by the week. Although they’ve only been open for two years, Co-owner of the shop Kevin McCall said he’s seen an uptick in their sales during the designated week. “Even though it’s just 6%, people get excited,” he said. He described the week as “a sale that doesn’t cost us any money” — but does it cost the state money?
Yes, it does, said Richard Fleming, president and CEO of the St. Mary’s County Chamber of Commerce, “but obviously they feel it’s more important to help the residents and citizens of Maryland. … I think its a great benefit for the citizens of Maryland.”
Maryland celebrates its other tax-free event, Shop Maryland Energy Tax-Free Weekend, in February. According to the comptroller’s website, 2020’s energy tax-free weekend is slated for February 16 to 18.
For more information about tax-free week, or for a list of what purchases don’t get taxed, visit www.marylandtaxes.gov.