Final tax-free weekend brings large numbers

Aug. 02, 2013 @ 08:58 PM

On the first day of North Carolina’s last tax-free weekend, crowds swarmed local big box stores in search of deals.

This year, many families looked to take advantage of savings on printers, electronic accessories and computers, which are tax-exempt up to $3,500.

Yolanda Yoder of Henderson, who pushed a full shopping cart in Staples on Friday, said she would miss the holiday next year.

“I’ll probably spend up to $500 on school supplies for my four kids,” she said. “I don’t know if it saves a huge amount, but it’s nice that there’s a time designated to do school shopping and stores usually have additional sales.”

Yoder also picked up a new $170 Internet router that can handle eight or more devices at once.

Her old router stopped working last week, but she held off until Friday to make her purchase.

“I waited so I could save a little bit of money on this,” said Yoder, a Vance-Granville Community College teacher.

But she says she plans to stay in town next year when its time again to shop for school supplies, instead of crossing the border to states that are keeping the holiday.

The recently passed Tax Simplification and Reduction Act contains a provision that ends the state’s tax-free weekend effective next year.

North Carolina’s existing tax-free statute is considered broader than those in nearby states.

For example, in North Carolina, individual school supplies up to $100 are tax-free.

In Virginia, school supplies are tax-exempt if they cost $20 or less per item.

Virginia’s tax-free holiday only applies to school supplies and clothes. Electronics, like laptops and tablets, are not tax-exempt; in North Carolina they are included.

Stan Wolfenbarger, general manager at Staples, said his store always sees an increase in computer and electronics sales during this time of year.

“People were waiting outside this morning before we opened,” he said. “With the pressure of this being the last one, that’s causing an influx in business as well.”

Wolfenbarger, who has worked at Staples for 12 years, said the tax-free weekend is not overly profitable, but it does generate high sales.

“We do more in sales in these three days than we will any other time of year,” he said. “This holiday benefits the consumer more than us.”

Kim Brummell of Oxford stopped by Staples Friday to browse the store’s selection of computer memory for her outdated desktop.

On her way to the computer memory section, Brummell was distracted by the new desktops on display in the front of the store.

She said the tax-free deal made the new computers seem more attractive.

“I came in looking for more memory, and now I’m thinking about upgrading to a new computer.”

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.