Sales Tax Holiday? Bah humbug!

Contributed by Karen T. Owens

I read the other day that retailers are making plans for this year’s annual Sales Tax Holiday, scheduled for August 6 – 8. It’s turned into the state’s third busiest shopping period of the year, behind Thanksgiving weekend and right before Christmas.

An estimated $2.8 million in sales tax will be avoided by residents and visitors to our state over the three-day weekend. In the grand scheme of South Carolina’s overall general operating budget, which is nearly $5 billion, that’s less than one percent so what’s the big deal? I guess the retailers are supporting our legislators’ re-election campaigns to keep this stupid law on the books.

Don’t get me wrong – I like to save on purchases, too. I enjoy a good sale with the best of them. But I don’t mind the inconvenience of paying a few more dimes and nickels for pencils and calculators to miss the long lines and slow service that result from these artificially induced shopping sprees. Given the current state of our real and projected revenues, it would appear to me that every little bit helps!

As a former state employee, I know there are services provided by the state that are worthy of our tax dollars. Granted there’s some bloat, but I’d just soon have funding to support programs that encourage energy efficiency in our public buildings, support activities designed to keep our young people in school, foster programs that jumpstart innovation and provide healthcare services to our neediest citizens, to name a few.

I think the Sales Tax Holiday has become a PR gimmick that helps our elected officials feel like they are doing something for the average South Carolinian. How about taking on comprehensive tax reform and really doing something for our state’s citizens?! Do away with antiquated exemptions and fees, reduce unfair burdens on small businesses, stop special-interest pork-barrel spending and keep cutting away at the growing government bureaucracy. Now those are meaningful acts and would create some front-page stories I think we’d all like to read!

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One Comment to “Sales Tax Holiday? Bah humbug!”

  1. Only because I had to work that day did I hazard the traffic, but I found it was actually not as bad as in years past. I think the public is catching on that the Tax Holidy doesn’t really yield the savings that it would seem. So much stuff goes on sale after the peak back-to-school rush, making you wish you’d just waited. Is it worth the ten bucks you’ll save in taxes? Probably not, since the markdowns will be much more significant in about a month. And, praise the Lord for internet shopping.

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