Pencils, pens, panties:
A tax-free extravaganza
Saturday, August 03, 2013 7:15 PM
A lot of people vowed to stay home this weekend. When they got in from work Friday, that was it. No venturing out, not even for a meal at one of the kabillion restaurants in town.
Their reasoning? They did not want to fight the traffic and crowds taking advantage of tax-free weekend. By the way, these are likely the same people who have absolutely nothing to do with Black Friday Christmas shopping, even though tax-free weekend is hardly on the same scale of madness.
Established for the purpose of driving back-to-school purchases while saving households money, tax-free weekend has been a godsend to many a shopper in the Palmetto State.
And if you look closely, you'll quickly note plenty of tax-free weekend shoppers are childless. This might have been about back-to-school purchases, but many a person was in the thick of it for himself.
ALL OF WHICH might well explain the odd list of what is and is not exempt from taxation during the frenzied weekend.
Pens, pencils, paper and back-to-school clothing. Yeah, that makes sense. And you can avoid the tax if you buy a complete computer system (the CPU, monitor, keyboard and mouse in a package deal), but you'll pony up the tax if you buy a keyboard, monitor or mouse separately. Uh. OK.
But if you think the computer differentiation is odd, how about the fact tablets and e-readers aren't exempt? Really? School districts and colleges everywhere are issuing iPads to students and teachers alike, so where's the sense in that? Government is often known for being a bit behind the times, but I know we have some social media savvy lawmakers who are keenly aware smartphones and tablets are quickly replacing the old desktop and even the laptop. Even Gov. Nikki Haley tweets from a Twitter account, and you know she's doing that from a smartphone. So why not give a break on those purchases, too?
IT GETS STRANGER, though. For example, while it makes sense to exempt a good many articles of clothing from state tax, how in the heck did our lawmakers include wedding dresses on the list? Yeah, it's South Carolina, where many residents think once you reach that first double-digit birthday you should be declared legal, a state that proudly devotes pages of high school yearbooks to new single moms who are still in high school. Sometimes they even include a picture of the daddy. Baby clothes, diapers, baby shoes, bibs and the like are exempt, so maybe the legislature figured eventually there'd be a wedding, perhaps during spring or winter break. Until the wedding, however, prom dresses and tuxedos are also tax-exempt - unless they're rentals.
Ice skates, in-line skates, roller skates and other sports attire qualify for the tax-free status. I guess it makes sense on all the sportswear, but I have yet to see a high school or college with a skating team. Oh, but shoulder pads, shin guards and padding are not exempt, nor are sports-related mitts and gloves. Logic strikes out again.
All sorts of school supplies are on the tax-exempt list; however, briefcases are not, signaling what many of us have known for years: backpacks are in, bookbags and briefcases are out. Unless you're a nerd. And unless it's a backpack specifically for hiking. (How the heck would they know at the store?)
YOU CAN AVOID the tax on a shower curtain for the collegiate in the home, but the rings and rod to hang it from are not tax-free. That's government logic for ya.
Say the kid needs a pair of eyeglasses in order to be a more studious student. You'll pay the tax on those. Sunglasses, too.
All sorts of beddtime items qualify, and that's especially logical for those who are going back to school on a college campus. Bed linens, PJs, nightgowns and robes all qualify, but so does lingerie. Ah yes, nothing says back to school like a nice tax-free thong from Victoria's Secret.
My girls are grown and out of school now, but that didn't stop me from taking advantage of the tax-free weekend. So, while I couldn't buy a new grill without paying the tax, I did enjoy the savings I made when buying some lingerie in town. For Chris Trainor, of course.
Whiting is executive editor of the Index-Journal. Contact him at 943-2522; email firstname.lastname@example.org ,or follow him on Twitter at IJEDITOR. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper's opinion.