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Quite a few years ago, my sister-in-law talked me into taking four kids, ranging in age from grade school to junior high, and spending four days in a mall.  Yes, I spent four days of my vacation in a mall – and it wasn’t just any mall, it was the second largest mall in the United States.  Mall of America, near Minneapolis, covers almost 97 acres!  Seven Yankee Stadiums will fit inside this mall! 40 million people visit this mall each year!  There is an amusement park in the middle of this mall!

Anyone that knows me well knows I don’t “do” malls, and I don’t like large crowds.  I don’t shop at Wal-mart, I shop small local stores as much as possible.  My common sense flew right out the window at the look on the young faces when they heard the trip proposal, so we packed kids, luggage, and ourselves in a van and headed out at 7 AM one morning.

I was dumbstruck when, after checking into the hotel at 3:30 PM and flopping on the very comfortable, very inviting bed, my sister-in-law popped her head through the connecting door and screamed, “Let’s go to the mall!”  (You’re kidding, right?  I just drove 8 hours in a van to get here, and you want to go to the mall?  Now?  You’re joking!  No? You’re not joking?)

We all got back in the van.  We all went to the mall.

Save sales tax on back to school items!   Learn how at The Budget Professional! School was due to start in a few weeks, and my kids needed school clothes and shoes.  The first store we hit was Old Navy, and jeans were on sale!  I bought each kid enough jeans for a year, and when I got to the checkout the total was enough to make the monthly payment on a luxury car.  But, the sales clerk congratulated me on saving so much on sales tax.  I had no clue that Minnesota was having a sales tax holiday that weekend, which meant that all clothing, school supplies, and computer purchases had the normally assessed sales tax waived.  The savings on our purchases that weekend quickly added up.

A few years later, the state I live in started holding sales tax holidays, usually a few weeks before schools were due to start classes.  Cities and towns use the sales tax holiday as an incentive to lure shoppers into stores.  Merchants stock shelves and hang sale signs in anticipation of seeing larger crowds than normal.  A lot of shoppers will plan and wait to make large purchases, such as desktop and laptop computers, in order to save sales tax.  If a laptop computer is priced at $2,000, and the local tax rate is 9%, that is a savings of $180 in sales tax.  Quite a savings when coupled with back to school clothes and school supplies for multiple children.

Most states put a limit on what kind of items are exempt from sales tax during these tax holidays, and the tax exemptions are usually limited to clothing, shoes, school supplies, computers, computer equipment, software, and text books.  Each state will also put a dollar limit on what can be purchased – in Missouri, for example, the dollar limit on a personal computer is $3,500, whereas the state of Texas does not have computers listed as an allowable item for sales tax exemption during their tax holiday.

Sales tax holidays have been expanded in recent years to include energy efficient home appliances, hot water heaters, air conditioners, or hurricane preparedness items such as generators and supplies.  A few states also add hand guns, rifles, and ammunition as allowable purchases during these tax holidays.  Each state has different rules, so make sure you know what is allowed and what is not before you set out on your shopping trip.

Local municipalities can and do exempt themselves from sales tax holidays.  Just because the state allows the holiday does not mean the town where you live must participate.  The village where I live, for example, exempted themselves from the state sales tax holiday, using the reasoning that the city could not afford to lose the sales tax on those purchases.  I think the city lost a lot more than they would have by participating in the holiday, because most people that live here simply traveled 5 or 10 minutes down the road to the next suburb and spent their money in a town that waived sales tax on what they bought during those sales tax free days.

The following states will soon hold State Sales Tax Holidays:

  • Alabama  August 3-5
  • Arkansas  August 4-5
  • Connecticut  August 19-25
  • Florida  August 3-5
  • Georgia  August 10-11
  • Iowa  August 3-4
  • Louisiana  August 3-4
  • Maryland  August 12-18
  • Missouri  August 3-5
  • New Mexico  August 3-5
  • North Carolina  August 3-5
  • Oklahoma  August 3-5
  • South Carolina  August 3-5
  • Tennessee  August 3-5
  • Texas  August 17-18
  • Virginia  August 3-5

Please check this link:

2012 State Sales Tax Holidays per the FTA

where you’ll find more info and details on the items available for sales tax exemption, 2012 dates for the sales tax holiday in your state, and links back to each state where you can obtain item lists, sales tax rate schedules, limitations, and more.

In case you have issues with the link above:  http://www.taxadmin.org/fta/rate/sales_holiday.html

Happy shopping!

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A few months ago, my close friend Georgene sent me a link to a blog post and told me the story of how the young site owner had quit her job to blog full time – and was making a LOT of money doing it. Being a writer myself, I was instantly hooked by the story and went to take a look. I left the corporate work force a few years ago to write full time. Fast forward almost two years, and I find myself all over the place instead of on the New York Times Best Seller List, and not nearly as successful as I had planned on being – too many ideas, not enough time in my days.

I took a look at Crystal’s blog “Budgeting In The Fun Stuff” and told myself that I had planned for over two years to get a blog out there on taxes, money, and all things related. If a young woman could do it and make enough money to build a new house, I should be able to do it, too – after all, I didn’t need a new house, I only needed a new car! I moved my “money/taxes site” up a few slots on my business to-do list, resolving to get on the ball and get the blog out there. Sometime tomorrow. Or maybe the next day. Sometime soon.

A few weeks ago, a headline on Crystal’s blog happened to catch my eye:  “How I Make Money eBook is FINALLY LAUNCHED!!!” Since I also write eBooks and I’ve been the eBook launch coordinator for an award winning writer and Grammy winning song writer, I read with interest Crystal’s ebook sales page.

Crystal mentioned that she was looking for someone to volunteer to test out her ebook, follow the steps she had created in building up her blog to replace her income – and see if the process could be duplicated. I sent her an email and very quickly found myself included in a small group of bloggers that will be testing the “BFS Process” and chronicling the journey. I figured what better way to get my blog idea out of my head and onto a page – be responsible to someone else, seek to prove Crystal’s ebook steps were do-able – and just do it. Instead of “sometime soon”, I found myself building a blog NOW!

I’ve got a solid background in small business, taxes, tax prep, bookkeeping, business consulting, and more. Money and finance is an excellent niche to chronicle what my decades long experience has been, and I look forward to talking to you about it. I’ve also got a lot of things going on with myself and my own finances that I’ll be writing about. This old house needs repair, student loan debt needs to be repaid, existing retirement plans need to be liquidated and moved, new retirement accounts set up and funded. My emergency fund was recently depleted over the last few months due to my husband’s job loss – he spent 13 years with the same company and was laid off on Good Friday without a word of warning or inkling the company was making any changes. I need to buy a new car, and soon – can I do it with cash? I haven’t had a car payment for years, and I’d like to keep it that way. The central air unit quit this week. It was repairable, but it was new 22 years ago – can I replace that without resorting to a perennial garage sale? (I think my village might frown on that, in this neighborhood!)

There is a lot to talk about, and I’ll be telling you how I intend to do what needs to be done in my financial world. Will I make the right decisions? Will I do the right things at the right time? I’m looking at a few investment vehicles and am going to write about how I set up those accounts and how they pay off – will I make money or lose money? I used to trade the markets for a living – dare I jump into stock and commodity options or the Forex market again? Subscribe to my RSS feed or follow me on Facebook and find out!

Send me an email or drop a comment and tell me what you’d like to see and hear. Do you have any questions about your taxes? Do you own a small business and don’t understand what is expected of you as an employer? Looking for an accountant or tax professional and need to know what to look for? Let me know, and I’ll be glad to help!

Check back often, as I’ll be posting updates as I follow in Crystal’s footsteps, and I’ll be keeping track publicly of my blog’s stats, traffic, income, and more! Can I do the same thing Crystal did, and make six figures from this blog in a year? Will I be posting this time next year from a private beach? Tune in and find out! Sand checks will be coming regularly!

 

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