RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – While South Carolina and Virginia will hold sales tax holidays beginning Friday as families get ready to go back to school, North Carolina legislative leaders say they don’t support reviving the state’s tax holiday after eliminating it several years ago.
During this year’s short session, Senate Democrats filed a bill to bring the tax holiday back, citing the inflation rate and the state’s surplus of more than $6 billion.
“It’s within our power. We clearly have the surplus to be able to afford it to be able to give parents a little bit of relief as they start shopping to go back to school,” said Sen. Michael Garrett (D-Guilford).
Republican legislative leaders eliminated the sales tax holiday in 2013 as part of a broader tax reform package.
The last time the sales tax holiday was in effect, it cost the state about $13 million, according to a report at the time from the Department of Revenue.
As part of the budget Republicans in the General Assembly crafted and Gov. Roy Cooper (D) signed into law last month, legislative leaders declined to include any additional tax cuts. They cited concerns about whether the economy is heading toward a recession and put billions of dollars into reserves. The state’s income tax rate will continue to drop for the next few years as part of an agreement reached last year.
“Tax-free holidays do little to provide meaningful tax relief. Instead of one-time political gimmicks, we should be focusing on long-term, permanent tax cuts that allow all North Carolinians to keep more of their hard-earned money,” wrote Randy Brechbiel, a spokesperson for Republican Senate leader Phil Berger.
Virginia’s sales tax holiday this weekend applies to school supplies, clothing, footwear, hurricane preparedness products as well as Energy Star and Water Sense products.
In South Carolina, the tax holiday applies to a wide variety of items that includes computers, school supplies, purses and bedding.
With the inflation rate at a 40-year high, parents are expecting to spend more this year to get their kids ready for school, according to a recent survey.
A Morning Consult poll found 25 percent of parents nationally expect to spend more than $500. That’s up from seven percent of them last year.
Debbie King, who has taught for more than 30 years, said it’s getting more expensive to get her classroom ready for her students.
“I provide pencils all the time, paper. So, as a teacher we do spend quite a bit of money,” she said. “I used to teach elementary, and elementary school teachers spend tons of money on their kids.”
She said teachers like her are aware of the strain back-to-school shopping can put on families, especially with rising prices this year.
“Myself and my colleagues, we try to be real thoughtful about what we ask for and be sure that what we’re asking for is going to be used,” she said.
Across the country, 17 states have sales tax holidays, according to the Tax Foundation. That’s down from a peak of 19 states in 2010.