This week is Shop Maryland Tax-Free week, and we're putting what that means for small businesses in focus.
This annual event always begins on the second Sunday in August, and it'll run through August 14. Tax-free week gives customers a break on the state’s 6 percent sales tax on certain items, which includes most clothing, footwear, and accessories worth $100 or less. Plus, the first $40 of any backpack is tax-exempt. This also applies to online purchases and there’s no limit on how much you can buy.
Click here for a full list of tax-exempt items.
"Some people save $60, $70, $80 when they come in and shop sometimes with their families but it’s not just for kids, it’s for everybody," said Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot.
In addition to saving money on taxes, the Maryland Retailers Association is partnering with the Comptroller's office to offer a scholarship opportunity for students at any Maryland university, college or trade school.
To enter, you'll have to submit a photo or video (under 60 seconds) to firstname.lastname@example.org showcasing your Tax-Free Week purchase. First place will receive $1,000 and there's a $500 prize for second place.
The Association and Comptrollers Office would also like those creative photos and videos on social media sites using #ShopMDTaxFree. Submissions should also display and tag the name of the retailer and explain why it’s their favorite place to shop tax free. Winners will be selected on August 15.
Many small, locally-owned businesses also look forward to the additional revenue that comes with Tax-Free Week.
"This is not something that comes out of our bottom line and the idea is this is a real boost to people and an incentive to get people into the stores and we hope people take advantage of it," said Nick Johnson, owner of Fells Point Surf Co.
And it's become a much needed promotion after a financial hit from the pandemic.
"We’ve lost 40,000 small businesses in the last 16 months, it’s a tragedy, it’s the pandemic, it’s economic consequences. We’re now beginning to come back and I just want to say to everyone the patriotic thing to do is to come down here and shop, shop local," said Comptroller Franchot.
"The pandemic had a real impact on stores in Maryland," says Sarah Price, the Legislative and Membership Associate at the Maryland Retailers Association. "Winners and losers were basically chosen at the beginning of the pandemic when the shutdown went into effect, because, you know, essential retailers were chosen and they were allowed to remain open and many of your small local main street type stores were forced to close and they weren't even able to remain open for curbside pickup for a long time."