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Local sales tax holiday sought in New York


 A time without sales tax.

New York State paved the sales tax holiday road in 1997, when state legislators enacted a tax-free period for clothing and footwear to discourage consumers from crossing state lines to shop without tax. New Jersey and Vermont have lower sales tax rates than New York, and Massachusetts and Pennsylvania exempt most clothing. A holiday from sales tax, even a brief one, seemed worth trying. Numerous other states soon followed suit.

Yet New York has not offered a sales tax holiday since 2006. Instead, it now exempts most clothing and footwear from state sales tax year-round (local taxes may apply), which has prompted the tax commissioner to tout, “In effect, every day is a New York sales tax holiday.”

Yet that’s not enough for some New Yorkers. The people of Putnam County would like their county to have a 10-day back-to-school sales tax holiday, during which the local portion of tax (4.38%) would not apply to sales of clothing and footwear. It has been proposed for August 15 – 24, 2016.

Putnam County is nestled between the Hudson River and Danbury, Connecticut. According to Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman of the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, “Due to high taxes and Connecticut retail centers less than 20 minutes away, Putnam County retail business are up against the stiffest competition in New York State…. This sales tax free week would give [Putnam County retail stores] an edge on sales and be an effective ‘thank you’ for their commitment to our county” (Putnam County Online).

Senate Bill 4809 (AB 7205) would authorize Putnam County to have the sales tax holiday it wants. It was approved by the Senate on June 14 and is has been referred to the Assembly Ways and Means Committee. Should Putnam County get what it wants, sales tax compliance will become more challenging for businesses that make sales in Putnam County.

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Gail Cole
Avalara Author
Gail Cole
Gail Cole
Avalara Author Gail Cole
Gail began researching and writing about sales tax in 2012 and has been fascinated with it ever since. She has a penchant for uncovering unusual tax facts, and endeavors to make complex sales tax laws more digestible for both experts and laypeople.