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

Shoppers weigh in on tax-free weekend


August 4, 2019

The school year is right around the corner and as is now tradition, it's time to brave the crowded stores to search for school supplies, new clothes and maybe a few flashy electronics to get ready for the new school year, all tax free thanks to New Mexico's statewide tax-free weekend.

Some shoppers might have missed most of the shopping fervor on Friday and Saturday, but the deadline is midnight tonight to get in those last few tax-free deals.

New Mexico holds an annual back-to-school tax-free weekend every year in early August, largely as a way to help with back-to-school shopping.

Shopper Desire Cross began her weekend shopping on Friday at the local Stages store at North Plains Mall. She took advantage of the weekend to help buy new school clothes for her daughter, while also keeping her eye out for something for her grandchildren.

“I always look forward to this,” Cross said. “It's a great way to save a little bit of money.”

Whyya Gonzalez, a Big Lots employee who has worked in retail for over 35 years noted that a lot of prep work goes into a weekend holiday like this and the increased turnout is always noticeable.

“We have to put up our signs and get the product on the floor,” Gonzalez said. “We probably get an 80 percent increase in turnout.”

During the holiday weekend, most school supplies and clothes are completely tax free, while electronics like desktops, laptops and notebooks below $1,000 are as well. Computer related hardware under $500 is also included, but with many restrictions. School supplies for classroom use also have to fall under a $30 limit, while clothes and shoes need to be under $100.

Navigating what is and isn't tax-free this weekend can sometimes be a challenge. Backpacks and book bags will be exempt, but handbags and satchels aren't. E-Readers with the ability to do word processing and spreadsheets aren't taxed, but taxes still apply to readers that are only for reading and Internet browing.

Zaka Batatty, who runs an electronics and accessory store at North Plains Mall, says he doesn't get much of an increase in business this time of year because most people don't know what electronic items do and do not qualify.

“We have some stuff in the store that's tax free, school supply type things,” Batatty said. “Not everyone really has a clear idea what is and isn't tax free.”

The Tax and Revenue website at features detailed lists of items that do and do not qualify.

There are 17 states across the U.S. that hold tax-free weekends this year, tying last year with the same amount but still down from a peak of 19 states back in 2010.

The Tax Foundation, a nonprofit organization devoted towards analyzing tax policy, published its findings and opinions from various studies regarding tax-free holiday events for 2019, with skeptical results of the event's value.

Reiterating its stance based on a 2017 study by the Federal Reserve, the Tax Foundation claims “Sales tax holidays do not promote economic growth or significantly increase consumer purchases; the evidence shows that they simply shift the timing of purchases. Some retailers raise prices during the holiday, reducing consumer savings.”

The Tax Foundation further denounces the practice of tax-free holidays, asserting that it does little to stimulate economic growth or even help individuals with lower incomes.

But for the average consumer, the tax-free weekend still feels like a great opportunity to take advantage of and a way to keep their money in local hands.

Catherine Lucero, who has two grandchildren that live with her, remembers a time when there was no tax-free weekend.

“Before the tax free weekends came along I was putting six kids through school,” Lucero said. “I've seen a big difference in not having to pay the extra money.”

Lucero says that she thinks is the biggest advantage is to the tax free holiday is that it keeps the back to school shopping in the Clovis area.

“That's what I think we need most, to keep people shopping in out community instead of letting them run off and shop in Texas or somewhere else,” Lucero said. “We have to keep our money here. That's how we can support our community, but doing our shopping here instead of Lubbock or Albuquerque.”


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