Welcome to my Consumer Doctor column for The Berkshire Eagle! I’m happy to start this column on the upcoming Massachusetts Sales Tax holiday weekend August 13-14.
Last month there was an annual inflation rate of 9%. This means that the value of the dollar decreases along with your purchasing power, which spirals out of control. Let’s see how we can curb this steep and downward economic road by saving money.
During the upcoming sales tax holiday weekend, any single product item, purchased from a retail store or online for personal use, sold for $2,500 or less, is exempt from sales tax from the Massachusetts. There are exclusions, which include meals, motor vehicles, tobacco products and alcoholic beverages.
Any online purchase paid in full before August 14 will be exempt from taxes regardless of its delivery date. Online orders should automatically not be charged state sales tax during this weekend. This was confirmed after speaking to two managers of the online business: Susan Frachette, associate director of corporate communications for Wayfair, and Elizabeth Palo, account coordinator for Target.
However, before checking out, I would make sure that a sales tax is not on your invoice.
But if you are wrongly charged sales tax, there is a remedy.
Naysa Woomer of the Massachusetts Department of Revenue recommends that you provide a copy of the receipt(s) and visit the Massachusetts Department of Revenue website for a list of frequently asked questions. This site also contains more specific details on what is and is not exempt from sales tax.
As summer draws to a close, several items are on sale during the month of August. Outdoor barbecues are one example, but there are several types of grills.
Bart Raser, president of Carr Hardware, explained that in addition to charcoal grills, there are also propane, gas, electric, and pellet grills.
So how do you know what’s best for you?
“It depends on your culinary lifestyle,” Raser said. “Hardcore grills who like it low [temperature] and slow [cooking time] should buy a charcoal grill.
He added: “Budget is another factor, which is why you should always consult a grill expert before purchasing one.”
As for other August deals, Raser highlighted generators and electrical equipment. During the Sales Tax Free Weekend, its customers will enjoy a “Double Tax Free Weekend” when there is a 6.25% discount given by Carr, in addition to the tax exemption of sale of 6.25%, for a total saving of 12.5%. Sounds like a good deal to me.
Even though the cost of school supplies and school clothes has increased, this increase can be reduced by companies such as Target.
Here, students can save up to 20% off a one-time purchase through their Target Circle Offer program through September 3. Teachers can save 15% on school supplies, as part of their Teacher Readiness event through September 10. according to Palo, from Target headquarters.
At Staples, teachers can save 5% for themselves in their Staple Rewards program. You can also look for laptops, printers, wired routers and tablets at these retailers or other retailers/e-tailers. I would check with your school websites now, so you can take advantage of this upcoming sales tax holiday weekend.
As most of you know, summer swimwear and summer clothes will also be on sale to clear their inventory for upcoming fall clothes. Right now, companies like Gap, Kohl’s, and Macy’s are already advertising their deep discounts online. You may also want to check your local retail stores.
In addition, there are “daily deals” sites, such as SlickDeals, DealNews, and Groupon, which feature company sites offering deep discounts on select products. In some cases, companies like Best Buy offer daily deals on their websites.
Another way to save is to look for companies that offer free shipping based on a minimum order amount. However, sometimes there are special free shipping offers, which are advertised on their sites or if you sign up for their emails.
I hope this column helps you save some money. After all, consumer insight gives you the power of the wallet.
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me.
Take advantage of your sales tax holiday weekend.