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Con: Tax-free weekend is a bigger hassle than it's worth

By ALLISON MILES
Aug. 15, 2010 at 3:15 a.m.


Tax-free clothingClothing items and their exemption status include:Tax-free

Baby clothes

Backpacks for use by elementary and secondary students

Belts with attached buckles

Boots - cowboy, hiking

Caps/hats - baseball, fishing, golf, knitted

Coats and wraps

Diapers - adult and baby

Dresses

Gloves

Gym suits and uniforms

Hooded shirts and hooded sweatshirts

Hosiery

Jackets

Jeans

Jerseys - baseball and football

Jogging apparel

Neckwear and ties

Pajamas

Pants and trousers

Raincoats and ponchos

Robes

Shirts

Shoes - sandals, slippers, sneakers, tennis, walking

Socks

Shorts

Suits, slacks, and jackets

Sweatshirts

Sweatsuits

Sweaters

Swimsuits

Underclothes

Work clothes and uniforms

Taxed

Accessories (generally) - barrettes, elastic ponytail holders, wallets, watches

Backpacks - unless for use by elementary and secondary students

Baseball cleats and pants

Belt buckles without belt

Boots - climbing, fishing, rubber work boots, ski, waders

Buttons and zippers

Cloth and lace, knitting yarns, and other fabrics

Dry cleaning services

Football pants

Golf gloves

Handbags and purses

Handkerchiefs

Hard hats

Helmets - bike, baseball, football, hockey, motorcycle, sports

Ice skates

Jewelry

Laundering services

Leather goods - except belts with buckles and wearing apparel

Pads - football, hockey, soccer, elbow, knee, shoulder

Personal flotation devices

Rented clothing, including uniforms, formal wear and costumes

Roller blades and skates

Safety clothing, glasses

Shoes - bicycle (cleated), bowling, golf

Source: Texas state comptroller website

Between oversized crowds, rushes for last-minute items and other shopping issues, many people avoid shopping centers altogether during tax-free weekend.

Financial issues will keep incoming Victoria College freshman Natalie Smith home this year.

"I don't have any money," she said, with a laugh as she perused the Victoria Mall.

Smith has braved tax-free events in the past, however, and said the crowds made it an "experience."

Several years ago, for instance, a Houston Abercrombie & Fitch store brought in company models during the tax-free experience and, with the sheer number of customers in the store, things were uncomfortable.

You won't find Joe Licon inside stores during the weekend either, but that's nothing unusual. The retired roofer said he avoids shopping whenever he can.

"I'd rather stay home and watch sports," he said. "Baseball or football."

Many people simply choose to shop earlier in the summer than tax-free weekend allows.

Of the 9,009 people polled for the National Retail Federation's back-to-school survey, 47.6 percent planned to begin school shopping three weeks to a month before school began, according to a retail federation news release. Another 21.6 percent said they planned to shop two months before school began.

Victoria resident Lucy Littles said is one of those people who hits the stores early.

Stores often run out of items people are looking for, which means consumers - and the schoolchildren they're shopping for - are limited in what they can get.

"I like to get my shopping out of the way early," she said.

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