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State offers savings on tax-free weekend

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Lisa Dunlap Photo The state tax holiday will occur from Friday until midnight Saturday. Most items needed for school or college are exempt from gross receipts taxes, but some business owners, such as Dene Van Winkle of Imagine That! Scrapbooks and Gifts, will sell all items tax-free.

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This year’s sales tax holiday is occurring days after the start of many area schools, but some retailers are still expecting to see shoppers in their stores starting today to reap the cost savings on back-to-school needs.

Every year since 2005, the state of New Mexico has offered an exemption to businesses on gross receipts taxes, or sales taxes, around the start of the academic year for items needed for school, with most businesses passing the savings onto consumers.

The sales weekend this year began just after midnight Friday and ends at midnight on Sunday.

The tax holiday exists so that New Mexico families can save on such items as clothing and shoes, backpacks, paper and notebooks, art supplies and learning aids such as calculators, computers and maps.

There are some limitations to what the state will exempt, including that each item of clothing or footwear cannot cost more than $100 and computers and tablets cannot cost more than $1,000, with most computer accessories not allowed to exceed $500. Also, certain categories of goods don’t qualify, such as athletic wear, music instruments, sewing goods, and specialty work tools.

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The list of eligible and ineligible items are available on the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department website, tax.newmexico.gov.

The department indicated that New Mexico consumers save $4 million a year with the tax holiday.

Dene Van Winkle, owner of Imagine That! Scrapbooks and Gifts at 317 N. Main Street, said that she carries a lot of school items such as paper, notebooks, pens and art supplies, but that she also is among those who plans to sell all her items without sales tax this weekend.

“It can get confusing for our shoppers,” Van Winkle said. “They don’t know what’s exempt and what isn’t.”

She says she, like some other business owners she knows, will sell items without sales tax this weekend, paying the tax herself on the items not exempted from the tax by the state.

She said she has already seen a number of people in prior days “trying to beat the crowds,” but personally doesn’t think this weekend will bring in larger groups for downtown or independent retailers.

“I think a lot of people will try to do the one-stop shopping this weekend,” she said. “I think a lot will want to buy all their school supplies and uniforms and socks and shoes in one place” at the national big-box retailers.

But a couple of other locally owned stores are hoping that the weekend will be a major draw, to add to the shoppers who already have been purchasing.

“So far it has been terrific,” said Kathleen Garcia, owner of the Farmhouse on Second at 124 E. Second St. about back-to-school purchases.

She said she has stocked up on backpacks, jeans, tops and other items for the back-to-school market and has seen quite a number of school-related shoppers already. She isn’t sure what to expect and whether this year’s federal relief money or recently paid child tax credits also will add to people’s available cash.

“Our hope is that we will a see a lot of people,” she said.

The owner of Casa Bella Boutique, Jennifer Whitcamp, has some school-related items this year, although personal circumstances prevented her from planning for the school season as she has done in the past. But she is planning to keep her store at 303 N. Main St. open late Friday and will operate for as long on Saturday as needed to serve customers.

She said the tax holiday usually helps to boost business.

“It does,” she said. “Usually we stay pretty busy for the weekend.”

MainStreet Roswell has themed its First Friday event with the tax holiday. Several of its 40 or so participating business owners — including Garcia and Van Winkle — will offer free giveaways or random drawings for gifts.

The average U.S. household expects to spend $849 this year for back-to-school goods, according to a report published by the National Retail Federation. The data is based on surveys conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics.

Total back-to-school spending is expected to be about $37.1 billion this year. Back-to-college spending is projected at $71 billion, or about $1,200 a household.

In 2020, back-to-school spending was $33.9 billion, while back-to-college spending reached $67.7 billion, according to the retail association.

Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.