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Back-to-school shopping briefly to be less taxing

Profile image for By Karina Ramírez / Staff Writer
By Karina Ramírez / Staff Writer

Golden Triangle Mall will open an hour early Friday through Sunday to help shoppers take advantage of the annual statewide tax-free shopping weekend.

Now in its 13th year, the incentive will allow shoppers to not pay sales taxes on most clothing, shoes, school supplies and backpacks priced less than $100.

Denton shoppers typically pay 8.25 percent in sales tax.

There are no changes to the list of tax-exempt items from last year.

The comptroller’s office predicts shoppers will save an estimated $64.8 million in state and local sales taxes.

Compared with last year, mall manager Matt Ludemann said, the mall has experienced more consistent traffic over the first half of the year. Even with its continued renovations, the mall will open its doors an hour early — at 9 a.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday. The mall will close at its regular times.

It’s the first time the mall has opened early for the tax “holiday.”

Ludemann said retailers are looking forward to a solid start to the back-to-school season.

Richard Last, a lecturer of merchandising at the University of North Texas, said back-to-school shopping gets customers in a good mood and provides a good indication of future fall shopping.

“It is more powerful than the usual discounting that is offered,” he said. “Maybe it is because the event only comes once a year.”

Last said the tax-free weekend works the same way when customers make their purchases online.

“Because they have the same presence, like in the stores, any online seller who is collecting tax in the state has to abide by the same rule,” he said.

The comptroller’s office also makes note of layaway purchases, advising that if a customer places qualifying merchandise on layaway during the weekend or makes a final payment, they can qualify for exemption.

Craig Shearman, a spokesman with the National Retail Federation, said retailers look forward to tax-free weekends because they are successful at drawing customers.

Shearman described it as a psychological phenomenon, different than going to a regular sale where the retailer would offer a percentage discount of 5 percent to 10 percent.

With or without the tax holidays, families nationwide already were planning to go out and spend an average of $688.62 on back-to-school shopping this year — about $85 more than last year, according to results of the National Retail Federation’s annual back-to-school survey.

Parents are expected to spend more money on clothes, accessories and electronics this year, although the survey said consumers are still concerned about the economy — 88 percent of respondents with school-age children said the economy would affect their shopping plans during the back-to-school season.

Back-to-school spending nationwide is expected to total $30.3 billion this year, according to the survey.

Terry Clower, director of UNT’s Center for Economic Development and Research, said he likely would avoid the tax-free event because of the crowds.

“I will pay the higher price,” he said. “It is not worth the insanity.”

Clower said that although customers and retailers are excited to take a break from paying sales taxes for a couple of days, tax-free weekends do not really have a huge impact on the local economy.

“There is a bit more spending and less revenue for the government,” Clower said. “It is really not done to boost business, but to give households a bit of a break during the back-to-school season so that families can provide the school supplies and clothes kids need.”

Only 17 states in the country have tax-free weekends. New York became the first to have the holiday in 1997, according to Ron Alt, a senior research associate with the Federation of Tax Administrators, a Washington, D.C.-based trade association.

Since then, other states have joined in. Texas held its first tax-free weekend in 1999.

Not all states offer the same exemptions during their tax-free weekends, as most exempt clothing and school supplies while others, such as North Carolina and New Mexico, exempt computers and instructional materials.

The time period of the tax holiday also varies. Most states have their holidays for a period of two to three days.

Connecticut and Maryland hold their events for seven days, according to information on the Federation of Tax Administrators’ website.

KARINA RAMÍREZ can be reached at 940-566-6878. Her e-mail address is .


Back-to-school items are tax-free Aug. 17-19. Texas shoppers can save on school supplies, backpacks and most clothing. Layaway plans can be used.

Savings: Shoppers will not have to pay sales tax on items under $100. For each $100 spent, that saves about $8.

Book bags: Backpacks are eligible if they have straps for wearing them on the back. Also eligible are backpacks with wheels if they have back straps and messenger bags. The exemption does not include luggage, briefcases, computer bags, purses, framed backpacks, and athletic, duffel or gym bags. Ten or fewer backpacks can be purchased tax-free at one time without providing an exemption certificate to the seller.

More details: Visit  .




 Book bags

 Blackboard chalk


 Cellophane tape


 Composition books



 Folders — expandable, pocket, plastic and manila

 Glue, paste and paste sticks


 Index cards and boxes

 Legal pads


 Markers — traditional and dry erase


 Paper, all types

 Pencil boxes and other school supply boxes

 Pencils and sharpeners





 Writing tables


 Baby clothes


 Belts with attached buckles

 Boots — cowboy and hiking

 Caps and hats — baseball, fishing, golf, knitted

 Coats and wraps

 Diapers — baby and adult



 Gym suits and uniforms

 Hooded shirts and sweat shirts




 Jerseys, baseball and football

 Jogging apparel

 Neckwear and ties


 Pants and trousers

 Raincoats and ponchos



 Shoes — sandals, slippers, sneakers, walking



 Suits, slacks, jackets

 Sweat shirts

 Sweat suits




 Work clothes and uniforms


 Accessories — barrettes, elastic ponytail holders, wallets, watches

 Framed backpacks

 Baseball cleats and pants

 Belt buckles without belt

 Boots — climbing, fishing, ski, waders, rubber work

 Buttons and zippers

 Cloth, lace, yarns, fabrics

 Football pants

 Golf gloves

 Handbags and purses


 Hard hats

 Helmets — bike, baseball, football, hockey, motorcycle

 Ice skates

 In-line and roller skates

 Laundering services

 Leather goods — except belts with buckles and apparel

 Pads — football, hockey, soccer, elbow, knee, shoulder

 Personal flotation devices

 Rented clothing

 Safety clothing, glasses

 Shoes — bicycle (cleats), bowling, golf

— The Dallas Morning News