The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Shoppers, businesses gear up for tax holiday


August 4, 2018

If you have back-to-school shopping to do in volume, this is probably a good weekend for it in New Mexico. If you favor serenity over some savings and calm over crowds, this might be a good one to stay in.

That’s because it’s the state’s annual “tax holiday” weekend, starting Friday and continuing to the stroke of midnight Sunday.

The stream of shoppers with laden carts picked up pace early evening as the business week began to close; it’s expected to peak on Saturday, as retailers ready their staff and shelves, roll out additional discounts and extend their hours.

“It’s going to be even crazier tomorrow,” Wal-Mart employee Sandra Salas told The News on Friday. “We’re just trying to get everything stocked.”

Carrie Chambers, another employee there, added: “I can guarantee you — Saturday, Sunday, it’s going to be slamming.”

Valerie Snipes said she started her day buying boots in Portales; as an employee of House Municipal Schools and a mother, it’s the best possible time to get school supplies, as well.

“Every chance we get to save money,” she said. “(My daughter Julee) is all in it for the cool notebooks.”

Some of the main “nontaxable items” included in the tax holiday are clothing, footwear and accessories (less than $100 per item), computers or “computer related items” up to $1,000 and $500, respectively, per item, and school supplies of up to $30 per item. That’s according to a bulletin from the state’s Taxation and Revenue Department, which explains that for this weekend “the law provides a deduction from gross receipts for retail sales of qualifying tangible personal property; in effect allowing the retailer to sell the items ‘tax free’.”

The effect is the only important part of all that detail, shopper and retailers told The News on Friday.

“No taxes is always a good thing,” said Lynn Vasquez, a Wal-Mart employee.

“With two kids going to high school, you gotta save when you can,” said Sandra DaVila.

There are 17 states this year holding some kind of a sales tax holiday, down from a peak of 19 in 2010 and up from 16 states last year, according to a non-partisan, non-profit think-tank out of Washington, D.C.

In a summary of its key findings from a 2018 special report on the topic, the Tax Foundation called sales tax holidays a “political gimmick” that distracts from “genuine, permanent tax relief.”

“If a state must offer a ‘holiday’ from its tax system, it is an implicit recognition that the state’s tax system is uncompetitive. If policymakers want to save money for consumers, then they should cut the sales tax rate year-round,” wrote Joseph Bishop-Henchman and Scott Drenkard. “They are also an inefficient means of helping low-income consumers and an ineffective means of providing savings to consumers.”

Tell that to the shoppers out Friday, many from out of town, all already contributing to the largest crowds some retailers had seen in weeks.

“But it can only get busier from here,” said James Aragon, an employee at an electronics store at the North Plains Mall. Aragon said he hadn’t sold a single tablet in three weeks, but on Friday he sold three at once.

Tavis Copp, an employee of a clothing store at the mall, said he and his co-workers were aiming for full staffing this weekend to serve their customers.

“That’s about as much as we can do, make sure everyone’s working,” he said.

Local employees’ preparatory efforts held strong even through crowds, at least compared to Texas, which holds its tax holiday Aug. 10-12.

“It’s kind of hard because everyone’s here and a lot of things are picked over,” said David Sena, shopping with three children for shoes Friday in the mall. “But we started today in Lubbock, and there’s more variety here.”

Some told The News the tax holiday was a good opportunity to stay in town and shop locally, while for others that was a relative term.

Sunni Osborn came in from Taiban with her children, and they all left the mall with heaving bags of back-to-school gear. She said she and her family “try to always” take advantage of those savings. The dwindling of summer is stressful enough, she added.


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