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Tax-free weekend coming up

Shoppers, put this on your calendars.

Governor Bob McDonnell announced on Tuesday the commonwealth’s fifth annual tax-free back-to-school shopping period is Aug. 6-8.

“It’s always a big deal for us,” Belk’s store manager Tonya Faison said. “We always generate a lot of business that weekend. Last year, we made close to $100,000 — saving our shoppers around $5,000. This year, we’re scheduled for about $85,000, meaning we could save our shoppers more than $4,000. It’s a popular weekend.”

During the tax-free weekend, Virginia waives the 5-percent state sales tax on all school supplies priced $20 or less each. Examples include notebooks, pencils, calculators, dictionaries, backpacks and lunchboxes.

The tax is also waived on clothing and footwear items, including jeans, shorts, dresses and sneakers priced at $100 or less each.

There is no limit to the quantity each person can buy, exemptions are available to everyone and there is no requirement that the shopper be going back to school, although the tax-free weekend is strategically scheduled for back-to-school shopping.

“It’s always a very busy few days,” Walmart shift manager Tiffinie Hoagland said. “People shopping for back to school and anything else come out. It really helps single parents and large families. All 32 of our registers are open, and we’re fully staffed. It saves people a lot of money. That tax adds up for everyone, especially when people are so concerned with saving money.”

While the tax-free incentive is good for the customer, it also serves to benefit the stores.

“When we do industry calls, retailers are always looking for an extra incentive to get people into the stores and buying,” Suffolk director of economic development Kevin Hughes said. “This is the perfect opportunity to do that. This helps things come off the shelves and prepare for the school and fall seasons.”

In turn, money also goes back into the city.

“A benefit of the weekend is that it gets money into circulation and into the city,” Faison said. “They do spend a little to give us that break, but it helps put revenue back into the community. If you don’t, business dries up and there are no jobs. This is really a win-win situation for everyone involved.”

Virginia also holds an Energy Star and WaterSense Products Sales Tax Holiday in October, and a Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday in May.