With the school year around the corner, Maryland consumers can find some reprieve during shop tax-free week starting Sunday. The brief discount comes as families deal with inflated prices at the grocery store, the gas pump and elsewhere.
Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week runs Aug. 14 through Aug. 20. Consumers will be exempt from the state’s 6 percent sales tax on any qualifying article of clothing or footwear priced at $100 or less.
The sales tax exemption includes school uniforms, flip-flops, socks, hats, bathing suits, underwear, pajamas and bathrobes. The tax exemption applies regardless of the number of items purchased, and the first $40 of any backpack is also exempt.
“Whether you’re looking to freshen up your wardrobe for the cooler months ahead or need to get your kids the latest styles for the new school year, this end-of-summer tradition is a great time to shop, save and support Maryland businesses,” Comptroller Peter Franchot said in a news release.
The exemption doesn’t apply to accessory items, including jewelry, watches, handbags, handkerchiefs, umbrellas, scarves, ties, headbands and belt buckles. Special clothing or footwear designed for protective use or not intended for everyday use, such as football pads, fishing boots and bike helmets, also don’t qualify.
A list of exempt and taxable items is available on the Comptroller’s website at www.marylandtaxes.gov, or by calling the Taxpayer Service Section at 410-260-7980 in Central Maryland or toll-free 1-800-MD TAXES from elsewhere.
The annual event is timed for back-to-school shopping and is intended to help families save money on school essentials. This back-to-school shopping season, parents — particularly in the low to middle income bracket — are focusing on the basics while also trading down to cheaper stores amid surging inflation, which hit a new 40-year high in June.
Last week, Walmart noted higher prices on gas and food are forcing shoppers to make fewer purchases of discretionary items, particularly clothing. Best Buy, the nation’s largest consumer electronics chain, says inflation has dampened consumer spending on gadgets. Both companies cut their profit forecasts as a result.
Such financial struggles amid the industry’s second-most important shopping season behind the winter holidays mark a big difference from a year ago, when many low-income shoppers, flush with government stimulus and buoyed by wage increases, spent freely.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.