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August 17, 2020

Week-long sales tax holiday starts Sunday

HBJ FILE PHOTO Westfarms mall in Farmington.

Connecticut’s sales tax holiday goes into effect Sunday, offering a boon to parents as they complete their back-to-school shopping and to small retailers still struggling to rebound from weeks of coronavirus-related shutdowns.

From Sunday through Aug. 22, sales and use taxes on most clothing and footwear under $100 are suspended. The incentive applies to purchases on an individual basis, meaning sales taxes are not collected on eligible items under $100 regardless of how many of those items customers buy on the same invoice.

Not all apparel in stores will be marked down, however. The sales tax reprieve does not apply to most athletic gear, or to boots, handbags, or jewelry.

Brick-and-mortar retailers — already struggling due to the rise of e-commerce giants like Amazon — saw business plummet in March and April, when a surge in COVID-19 cases prompted Gov. Ned Lamont to close all non-essential stores. And while the state has gradually reopened its economy over the summer, consumer spending still lags behind its pre-pandemic baseline.

Officials with the National Federation of Independent Business said the coming seven days will be critical to retailers looking to make up for lost sales.

“This has been a challenging spring and summer for local stores struggling to recover from the economic shutdown and a good time to support them as they do come back,” said Andrew Markowski, state director for the NFIB in Connecticut. “Not only did small business owners lose a lot of revenue in recent months, but they also had to spend additional dollars to pay for equipment and supplies to protect customers and employees from the coronavirus when reopening.”

The organization is also reminding consumers that the sales tax reprieve extends to online businesses, meaning those with increase susceptibility to the coronavirus can take advantage of the holiday from the comfort of their own homes.

Markowski said lawmakers should consider implementing another sales tax-free holiday later this year to assist both businesses and residents as they weather an increasingly unpredictable economic climate.

Connecticut’s sales tax-free week was created in 2000 by an act of the General Assembly. Per state statute, the week begins on the third Sunday in August and runs until the following Saturday.

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