Business owners expect brisk sales during tax-free weekend

Kevin Wilson and Argen Duncan

For the seventh year in a row, back-to-school shopping will be slightly less taxing.

Numerous merchants in New Mexico are getting set for the state’s tax-free holiday. According to the state’s Taxation and Revenue Department website, the tax holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. on the first Friday of August and concludes midnight Sunday.

During those approximate 72 hours, the state allows a deduction from gross receipts tax equal to that community’s tax rate.

The week is timed to help the state compete with neighboring states that offer similar holidays — mainly Texas — and to make common school supplies cheaper.

Included are:

• All clothing and shoes priced less than $100

• School supplies priced less than $15

• Computers priced less than $1,000

• Computer equipment priced less than $500

On a laptop computer priced at $700 customers could save more than $50 in taxes.

“Business is kind of slow for us in the summertime, so we’re hoping to see an increase in sales,” said Natashia Fetterman, supervisor at Bealls in Portales.

Bealls has put up signs and done other advertising to promote the weekend, and Fetterman said a lot of people had asked about it. The store is also opening two hours early and closing an hour late Friday and Saturday to give people more time to shop.

Fetterman said she sometimes takes advantage of the break from gross receipts taxes herself and goes shopping.

“Every little bit helps,” she said.

Cindy Banister, general manager of the North Plains Mall in Clovis, said the national offices of the mall’s chain stores are pretty cognizant of the weekend and usually send customer coupons to add to savings.

Banister said a handful of stores don’t have merchandise that qualifies, but she’s seen merchants in the food court also offer discounts in line with qualifying stores.

The weekend is usually one of the mall’s better ones, mostly topped by the weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas — even though it’s approximately an “8 percent off” sale.

“The stores are pretty amazed people will come in with the tax-free much more than if there’s a (greater) discount (on another weekend).”

A list of the taxable and non-taxable items for the gross receipts tax holiday can be found on the website of the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department (www.tax.newmexico.gov)