Our View: Sales tax holiday needs tweaks

Every year at about this time, select states will offer a sales tax holiday that allow shoppers to pick up clothes, shoes and sometimes notebooks, other school supplies, home goods and even computers – entirely tax free for anywhere from several days to a week.

This year, Connecticut will hold its annual sales tax holiday Aug. 19-25. In past years, shoppers have avoided more than $4 million in taxes when the state has offered the tax break.

While the sales tax holiday is well-intentioned and meant to benefit consumers, in this state it’s scheduled far too close to the first day of school – most districts start Aug. 29 – and not nearly as advantageous as a year-round tax policy that was in place a few years ago.

We’ve been calling on lawmakers for the past three years to, at the very least, reschedule the holiday to give parents more time. We also wouldn’t mind a tweak to the holiday that would maximize public benefit.

What about giving families a tax-free August? Maybe a tax-free June through August?

Most clothing and footwear priced below $100 will be exempt during the tax holiday from Connecticut’s standard 6.35 percent sales tax, with retailers allowed to offer discounts to drop prices below the $100 threshold at which the tax is applied on the full purchase.

But the state Department of Revenue Services lists several exemptions to the holiday that include athletic shoes, team uniforms, boots, clothing accessories and school supplies.

According to the National Retail Federation, families with children in elementary through high school across the country plan to spend an average $684.79 each for a total of $27.5 billion. It’s the third-highest total in the history of the federation’s survey.

We’re imploring the state to give Connecticut families a real holiday. Why not nclude supplies in the tax break to give parents and teachers a break? On average, most teachers spent nearly $500 out of their own pockets for supplies in 2016, and one in 10 spent $1,000 or more.

And we’re warning parents: knowing there are savings built in to every clothing purchase might tempt you into a shopping spree, but don’t go crazy. It’s possible – and perhaps even probable – that you’ll be able to find better sales either before or after the holiday.

To get the best deals, combine tax-free shopping with coupons and deals that you can stack.

The “staple” of Connecticut’s back-to-school shopping season is coming up, but it gives parents only a short window for a break on back-to-school shopping and an overhyped excursion that mostly benefits procrastinators.

Lawmakers should look to give consumers more of a boost for back-to-school shopping.

That’s our opinion. What’s yours? Email us at [email protected]