Annual sales tax-free week begins

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Gov. Dannel Malloy tries on boots Friday at Insane Irving's clothing store in Bristol.  Malloy reminded residents about the state's tax-free week at a news conference hosted at the store. From Sunday through Saturday most clothing and footwear under $300 will not be taxed throughout the state. –RA ARCHIVE
Gov. Dannel Malloy tries on boots Friday at Insane Irving’s clothing store in Bristol. Malloy reminded residents about the state’s tax-free week at a news conference hosted at the store. From Sunday through Saturday most clothing and footwear under $300 will not be taxed throughout the state. –RA ARCHIVE

BRISTOL — One recent back-to-school tradition annually enjoys much pregame hype: Connecticut’s annual sales tax-free week.

It started Sunday, and Gov. Dannel Malloy and a cadre of state officials visited Insane Irving’s clothing store in Bristol at noon Friday to promote both the benefits and opportunity for both savvy shoppers and retailers.

The way the governor and Kevin Sullivan, Department of Revenue Services Commissioner, put it, by offering a sales free tax week, the state will keep between $5 million and $7 million in consumers’ pockets, they said.

Sales tax week runs through Saturday.

Shoppers, with some exceptions, will be able to purchase most individual clothing and footwear items priced less than $300 without having to pay the 6.35 percent sales tax.

It will cost the state an estimated $7 million to $8 million, but the governor said it will relieve some of the financial burden of back-to-school shopping.

“It absolutely drives traffic in stores,” Malloy said. “It’s a great opportunity for people to do some shopping.”

It also can be confusing, as certain goods do not receive the exemption, including athletic and protective clothing and footwear designed for specialized use. Also, it does not cover jewelry, handbags, luggage, umbrellas, wallets, watches, and other items that people carry but do not wear.

A guide for the week’s shopping:

Not everything is included: Not all clothing and footwear is sales tax free. A suit sold as one item, for example, would not fit the rules — but a separate suit jacket and suit pants would. If a complete suit costs $400, it will not be tax exempt. But if the jacket and pants cost $200 each and can be purchased separately, then they would both be exempt.

Some of the state’s rules might make a shopper wonder what kind of back-to-school shopping legislators do, as they made sure to note that roller skates and lobster bibs are not exempt from the sales tax.

Neither are boots — which means the cowboy boots Malloy tried on during Friday’s back-to-school press event wouldn’t get a tax break.

Coupons can help: If a coupon brings the price of an item below $300, it will not be taxed.

Rain checks don’t: If a consumer obtains a rain check for an item during the tax-free week, but purchases it after the week is over, it will be taxed.

Layaways linger: Goods placed on layaway will remain tax exempt even for payments made after the tax-free period is complete.

Online counts: Any goods ordered online during the tax-free week will not be taxed, regardless of when they are delivered. Goods that are out of stock will be taxed unless the consumer plays the full purchase price during the tax-exempt period. Shipping and handling costs do not contribute to the $300 price limit.

Don’t worry about exchanges: If a customer purchases an article of clothing or footwear during the exclusion week and the customer exchanges the item for a like item after the exclusion week, the exchange is not taxable provided the sales price of the like item is also less than $300.

Paul Hughes contributed to this report.