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Is tax-free weekend worth it?
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Tax-free weekend, another bizarre, but popular shopping weekend, is among us.

In South Carolina, the weekend happens in late summer and is only applicable to “back-to-school” related items, such as computers, miscellaneous school supplies, towels, bedding and clothes. As popular as it seems to be, only a few states participate in tax free weekends. The tax-free weekend is said to drive consumer shopping, but do people buy more or just wait to purchase items during tax-free weekend? Sales are projected to be slow this year, but some say tax-free weekends have really never stimulated the economy like we are led to believe.

 Tax free weekend is, indeed, a popular time to shop. According to the Tax Foundation, however, only 17 states have tax free weekends. South Carolina, Tennessee and Florida, for example, only have one tax-free weekend each year. States like Virginia and Texas, on the other hand, have multiple tax-free weekends. They, too, have a weekend for school supplies and clothing, but also have weekends where they don’t tax on Energy Star products. Energy Star is “a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) voluntary program that helps businesses and individuals save money and protect our climate through superior energy efficiency.” Virginia also has a weekend where generators and hurricane supplies are tax free. Louisiana -- which has multiple weekends -- has a weekend where firearms, hunting supplies and ammunition are tax free. Amen! South Carolina formerly had similar tax-free weekends for firearms in November, according to the Tax Foundation, but stopped in 2010.

In South Carolina, consumers will save state and local taxes on supplies today through Sunday.

Twenty-eight states have no sales tax-free weekends and five states don’t have any sales tax at all. Massachusetts had a tax-free weekend last year, but will not have one this year. North Carolina will vote to end its tax-free weekend next year, according to media.

Tax-free weekend states are clumped together in the Southeast. Tax-free weekends were created to keep residents from going to other states to shop. Michigan and Ohio had tax free “holidays” in 1980, but New York was the first state to re-introduce the idea in 1997. Rather than create increased buying, tax-free weekends seem to shift the time of purchase. As far as border crossing, that would only seem logical on a regular basis if a state did not have its own tax-free weekend. Gas costs and wear and tear on the car may not be worth the trip for cheaper sales tax in a nearby state.

I don’t see tax-free weekends helping job growth as they are just one weekend a year, unlike the holiday season. Not only is it unlikely, it would be costly to businesses; it’s probably more practical to just schedule more people that weekend rather than higher additional help. It seems that with the economy the way it is, more states would opt out of a tax-free weekend. I’ve heard that tax-free weekends benefit low income families, but it’s not like everything is tax-free. I don’t see it being that big of a benefit to them or the population without children. I also am a big believer that some stores mark up their prices during certain holidays to make people think they are getting a deal. I read earlier in the year about stores who have sales just weeks before a holiday that offer lower prices than during the actual holiday season.

For those who don’t need a reason to shop, tax-free weekend is a time to rack up, if you can find a real deal; they are among the most popular shopping days after Black Friday.