Final tax-free weekend ushers in sobering realities

Some shoppers are unaware, others displeased
Aug. 03, 2013 @ 06:42 PM

 For members of the Gottschalk family of High Point, North Carolina’s final tax-free weekend turned into a teaching-learning experience.
Dad Tom was able to teach his three college-age children about budgeting, and son Ashton, headed to freshman year at college, learned how far a dollar will go — and that it will go less far next summer.
This tax-free weekend, which began Friday, is the last one for the state, at least through the term of the current administration. The N.C. General Assembly signed a bill last week that eliminates the weekend, when the 6.75 percent sales tax on certain items, mostly school supplies and clothing, is lifted.
Many shoppers informally surveyed Saturday were unaware that this is the final tax-free weekend. Several others, however, were well aware and not pleased.
“I’m not too happy because this is a good weekend people can take advantage of good prices to get what they need for school,” said Stephanie Miles of High Point, who was shopping at Big Lots on Westchester Drive for school supplies for her daughters, Brea, a student at Bennett College, and Essence, a student at Southwest Guilford High School. After Big Lots, the family was headed to Bed, Bath and Beyond, Walgreen’s and Wal-Mart.
“As taxpayers, you should get a weekend pass, maybe more than once a year.”
At Target behind Oak Hollow Mall, Tom and Ashton Gottschalk loaded an SUV almost to the brim with items Ashton soon will need at UNC School of the Arts.
“That’s $1,200 worth of shopping,” Tom said as he packed a mini-refrigerator, vacuum, coffee maker and bedding into the car. On Friday Tom took his other two kids shopping in Winston-Salem, and their tab was approximately $1,000. Daughter Brittany will be a senior at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and son Garrett will be a sophomore at UNCSA. Tom estimated his total expenses will be $2,500 by the time the weekend is over. Nearly all the family’s purchases qualified for the tax break, which would amount to $169.
“That ($169) would have been a couple of things they wouldn’t go back to school with, so that might be a couple of things they’ll be short on next year,” Tom said. “All these kids had a budget, and the tax break helps us make the budget go further.
“So for the economy, this makes less goods sold, so if you’re trying to help the economy, less will be sold next year.” 
For Ashton, the weekend shopping trip brought a different perspective on the home he realized he takes for granted a little.
“I never thought about what’s needed, and I never realized at my parents house how every little thing got there, how that cup got there,” Ashton said. “Even working this past year opened my eyes to what I have to prefer and get or not get.
“When you say next year won’t be tax free, it’s kinds scary because I guess one year I’ll be doing this (shopping for his kids).” / 888-3601