Back to school shoppers hit NC stores as bordering states waive taxes on supplies

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Shoppers are taking advantage of the tax-free weekend in South Carolina and Virginia. It’s an annual event that’s meant to help people save money, especially when buying school supplies. 

North Carolina used to have a tax-free weekend but hasn’t in more than five years. 

The average household spends nearly $700 for back-to-school shopping, according to the National Retail Federation.

“Books, stationary, school backpacks — just everything in general,” said Julian Peters.

Peters was shopping for his soon-to-be 4th and 1st graders in Raleigh on Saturday.

“It’s pretty much the same,” he said. “Everything’s in one place, so it’s pretty easy to find.”

In North Carolina, the receipts include taxes. That’s not the case this weekend in South Carolina and Virginia. Several North Carolinians headed both places to save a buck or two. 

“We are feeding other economies by doing that,” said Senator Valerie Foushee. 

North Carolina Senator Foushee has introduced a bill twice now to re-instate a tax-free holiday weekend. She said it helps struggling families. 

“I think leadership needs to take a look at that whole situation that people are willing to go to neighboring sates to take advantage of a situation that benefits them and their children,” she said.

Both times her bills weren’t heard in committee, including last year. 

“I find it difficult to understand, or even embrace, the concept that we will not allow this type of assistance of North Carolinians, but we do tax giveaways for corporations,” she said.

Then-Governor Pat McCrory signed a bill into law in 2013 that got rid of the annual event. 

The nonprofit Tax Foundation says its study shows tax-free weekends don’t promote economic growth and instead shift the timing of purchases. 

“Education, I mean can you put a price to it? I don’t think so. I’ll pay for it either way,” said Peters. 

Foushee said she didn’t introduce a bill again this year for a tax-free weekend because she knew once it again it wouldn’t be heard.

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