Thousands of South Carolinians doing their back-to-school shopping this weekend will enjoy a perk of not having to pay sales taxes on many purchases.
“The legislature just wanted to give parents a break,” state Department of Revenue spokeswoman Bonnie Swingle said, adding the weekend was started as a way to help the state’s parents with their back-to-school shopping.
The South Carolina Sales Tax Free Weekend is August 3-5. Some items needed for school and dorm room stocking are exempt from sales tax for the weekend. But the list can get confusing, at times.
Swingle said the agency estimates South Carolina shoppers save an estimated $2-3 million in sales taxes.
“Two to three million isn’t a huge amount when compared to the total tax collections that we have throughout the year,” Swingle said.
Swingle said the revenue lost from the uncollected tax over the weekend is a minute part of the state’s annual tax revenues.
“General Fund collections are generally around $8 billion in 2016 and 2017,” she said. “Retailers reported sales-tax weekend exempt sales to be a little over $2 million. So that’s less than one-half a percent of lost revenue toward total general fund collections.”
South Carolina is one of 16 states that has a tax-free weekend. Georgia stopped having one last year.
“Georgia and North Carolina no longer have their tax-free weekends,” Swingle said. “The shoppers that live in Georgia and North Carolina along the South Carolina border may be willing t travel into South Carolina for those additional savings.”
Swingle said retailers who may not offer items on the tax-exempt list sometimes participate by lowering prices to cover the cost of the sales tax.
“Other retailers that have items that aren’t tax exempt may also benefit from the increased traffic,” she said. “Some retailers will offer to pay the sales tax for shoppers during that weekend.