Should West Virginia revive a tax-free holiday?

An editorial from The Exponent Telegram

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — As parents and students scurry about trying to prepare for the start of school next week, we’re left wondering whatever became of the tax-free holidays held from 2002 to 2004.

Charleston Daily Mail Business Columnist Jared Hunt addressed the issue in a recent column, revealing that state officials and several “think tanks” find the practice to be ineffective in several ways. They claim the tax-free holiday periods don’t produce savings for buyers or boost sales.

Hunt did an excellent job sourcing the column, producing this quote attributed to  The Tax Foundation:

“If the purpose of sales tax holidays is to make school supplies and clothes cheaper for low-income individuals, then a 4 to 7 percent price reduction for all consumers, but only for a brief period, is an odd and ineffective way to achieving it. It’s an example of politicians using a fire hose when a garden hose will do a better job.”

That analogy is cause for pause, especially when you consider that 18 states, including neighboring Maryland and Virginia, as well as nearby North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, still offer the tax-free period.

So do those 18 states have it wrong?

Or is there value to a tax-free period?

We have to wonder if an extended, two-week tax-free period, from Aug. 1-15, would give ample time for consumers to benefit, as well as retailers to plan accordingly…

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