Comptroller Peter Franchot urged Maryland’s shoppers to take advantage of the state’s seven-day sales tax holiday on qualifying items in order to help small businesses that have suffered due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I continue to pound the table. It’s a very important week for Maryland retailers who are facing an apocalyptic event as far as the pandemic has had enormous economic consequences,” Franchot told MarylandReporter.com in a phone interview on Monday.
Franchot added: “These are tremendous businesses. Many of them are closing. You go up and down the main streets of Maryland towns these days and you see lots of ‘For Lease” signs in the storefronts. And this is a chance for seven days to either remotely-because you can purchase these items at the store in an internet sale capacity and get the savings-or wear a mask and go down and actually patronize them-make some purchases and help them get through the immediate bleak situation that they have.”
“Tax-Free Week” runs from Sunday, August 9 to Saturday, August 15. During that period the purchase of any individual item of clothing or footwear of $100 or less will be exempt from Maryland’s 6% sales tax. The same applies to the first $40 of any backpack sale. The tax-free treatment applies regardless of how many items are purchased at the same.
“Tax-Free Week” has traditionally been linked with back-to-school shopping but it applies to all patrons regardless of age. This year the vast majority of Maryland’s students will be attending the fall semester online due to the pandemic.
Franchot said that the unique school situation does not negate the importance of the sales tax holiday.
“The average family in Maryland spends $800 or $900 a year for an individual child in back-to-school shopping during a normal situation…But, kids, even if they’re not going to school in August and September-their feet grow. And they’re young so they grow. And they’re going to outgrow their clothes. And, so, there’s still a logic there for giving this tax wavier. And I hope that everybody takes advantage of it.”
National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) state chair Mike O’Halloran, in a statement on Monday, also urged Maryland’s shoppers to take advantage of the sales tax holiday.
“This has been a challenging spring and summer for local stores struggling to recover from the economic shutdown and a good time to support them as they do come back,” he said. “Not only did small business owners lose a lot of revenue in recent months, but they also had to spend additional dollars to pay for equipment and supplies to protect customers and employees from the coronavirus when reopening.”
O’Halloran urged Maryland’s shoppers to also patronize restaurants during the sales tax holiday.
“If you want to go out and visit your local stores during the sales tax-free week, consider visiting a small independently owned restaurant for lunch. Those who prefer not to go in person can often find local businesses and restaurants have websites where you can order goods online or get curbside pickup.”
There are 91,144 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maryland as of Monday morning, according to the state’s Department of Health, and 3,389 people in Maryland have died from the virus.
Maryland has tested more than 1.2 million people for the virus. The state’s positivity rate is at 4.36%, which is better than that of most states in the country.
By Bryan Renbaum