— The Santa Fe New Mexican
Get set, get ready, get shopping! It’s back-to-school season, complete with one last day without sales taxes on certain purchases.
New Mexico is one of 17 states that provides a break on taxes on certain purchases, according to the conservative Tax Foundation group.
The New Mexico tax holiday is designed to give families a break. Parents making purchases through today have to buy pencils, notebooks and clothes anyway. They just will spend less when the total is added up — as much as 8 percent less, depending on what the gross receipts tax is in your city.
What’s eligible? Clothes and shoes under $100; computers sold for no more than $1,000 and most school supplies priced under $30. Video games, e-readers and MP3 players are not eligible, even if they are for “educational” purposes.
The Tax Foundation argues that such holidays might be politically popular but don’t do much to stimulate the economy. A better tax policy would be across-the-board reform in general, foundation experts argue (Read: lower taxes.).
Not every state targets the holiday for back-to-school purchases; others use a tax break to encourage people to buy hurricane preparedness supplies or energy-efficient appliances. Most states have sales taxes; in New Mexico, ours is the gross receipts tax.
The Tax Foundation has a point — broad tax reform could help both business and families. The notion being lower the rate and broaden the base. Until that happens, use the tax holiday weekend to save.
Families with school-aged children spent an average of $690 a year on school-related items last year, according to the National Retail Federation. Every cent that doesn’t go to sales tax can either be saved or spent on another necessity.
Get out and get shopping. Save all you can. And, while out and about, spend some of those dollars at locally owned businesses. You can save and help your neighbors make a living. That way, everyone wins.