Clothing Sales Tax Hike Benefits No One
We can only shake our heads in disbelief at the provision of the just-passed state budget that allows for the reimplementation of the 4 percent sales tax on clothing purchases under $110 that will go into effect October 1.
The tax on all clothing and shoe items will remain in effect until April of next year, when clothing and shoes priced up to $55 will be exempt from the state sales tax. As of April 2012, the full exemption on clothing items, including shoes, costing no more than $110 will be restored.
That the tax exemption will be fully restored a year and a half after it will have been rescinded is scant comfort to consumers faced with the necessity of paying more for the clothing items they must have or risking arrest for indecent exposure or to the business owners and managers who must raise prices and watch their sales numbers drop in consequence. Parents with children about to start school need to buy clothing for their families now, not 18 months from now, and although they can avoid the tax if they make their purchases before October 1, they will of necessity have to buy clothes and pay the full sales tax during the seven months between October and April 2011, when purchases up to $55 will once again be tax-free, and pay the full tax on purchases over $55 between April 2011 and April 2012, when the $110 limit will once again be in effect. In these thin and piping times, budgets are stretched as far as they can go. Some families may be faced with the unpleasant choice of buying clothes for school or work or meeting other necessary expenses. Merchandisers’ profit margins leave little room for error or a stretch of bad weather that keeps shoppers out of stores. The full sales tax will be in effect when the shopping public is contemplating holiday purchases as gifts or for themselves, and indubitably some people will find themselves in serious hardship situations.
Experience has shown that the rescinded sales tax resulted in more tax revenues, not fewer. Shoppers who have saved money on clothes tend to spend the savings on other things, including taxable items. More money goes into state coffers on taxable-item sales, shopkeepers seeking to clear a little profit are happy and consumers knowing they got the best deal possible for the money they had to spend are more likely to seek out further bargains. Everyone wins.
The reimposition of the sales tax benefits no one, except possibly New Jersey. Whatever measures are necessary to rescind this ill-considered swipe at the taxpaying consumers of New York state and the purveyors of the goods and services they buy should be instituted at once, for the good of the taxpayers, the state and any and all clothing purveyors, be they large chain or mom-and-pop. All of us have taken a hit in the present economy. All of us, including the state, deserve a break.