Lawmaker questions need for tax-free weekend

Posted August 2, 2011 6:04 p.m. EDT
Updated August 2, 2011 7:06 p.m. EDT

Money generic, dollars

— The $19.7 billion state budget that lawmakers approved in June included deep spending cuts to many programs, yet it continued an annual event that costs North Carolina $12 million in revenue.

The tax-free weekend, which runs from 12:01 a.m. Friday to 11:59 p.m. Sunday, encourages people to shop for school supplies and clothing, stimulating the economy.

"We'll save quite a bit of money. With four kids, you need to save every penny," Raleigh resident Maureen Glasgow said.

The tax-free list includes clothing that's less than $100 per item, school supplies under $100, computer systems under $3,500, computer accessories less than $250 per item and sports and recreational equipment less than $50 per item.

Missy White, an incoming freshman at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has been waiting for this weekend to spend big.

"Maybe (I'll buy) a printer, some clothes. I need new running shoes," White said. "(I need) mainly paper, pencils maybe. I don't know what all is tax-free, but (I want to) get as much as I can."

Some lawmakers said they aren't buying the concept of a tax-free weekend, however, and might end the event next year.

"I would say probably postpone the program for the short term and evaluate it," said Sen. Richard Stevens, R-Wake. "What does it mean for the economy of the state versus what does it mean for the loss of revenue? If it's more loss of revenue than gain, we ought not to continue the program."

John Parker, father of three, said he has no plans to shop this weekend but wants the state to keep its annual sales tax holiday.

"I think it's good for families that are budget-conscious and for folks really taking advantage of every savings they can because it is hard times," Parker said.