Smithfield Herald

Shoppers embrace last tax holiday

North Carolina's last tax-free weekend drew shoppers to Carolina Premium Outlets in Smithfield.
North Carolina's last tax-free weekend drew shoppers to Carolina Premium Outlets in Smithfield.

This time last weekend, Johnston County residents were enjoying tax-free shopping.

But this year’s tax-free weekend was North Carolina’s last. The N.C. General Assembly, as part of its tax-reform package, ended the holiday starting in 2014. Based on last year’s tax-holiday sales, the change will add about $13 million to state tax coffers.

The weekend is known for luring flocks of shoppers in search of back-to-school clothing and supplies.

For Gregory Toomey of Clayton, the tax-free weekend was an important chance to save money while buying things his two young children need. Toomey was among the thousands of shoppers who descended on Carolina Premium Outlets last weekend.

“You can’t afford not to buy it now,” he said. This year his family spent $130 on shoes and pants. Next year, those same items would cost another $9.

“We’re going to have to find some way to ... buy a little throughout the year versus buying that weekend.”

Toomey wondered what the legislature would cut next. “The cost of living is going up, and they’re getting rid of tax-free weekend,” he said. “Seems to me that they’re not looking out for the little people.”

Marie Teachey also visited the outlet center last weekend. She came from Dudley in Wayne County. By the end of the weekend, Teachey had spent $250 for her high school-aged daughter. Next year, that same purchase would cost closer to $267.

Teachey said she was against ending the tax holiday because it was important for families, especially single parents, which she used to be. “This is one of the weekends they look forward to, to save money, live better,” she said.

Steve Hart, who lives in Smithfield, spent at least $250 on his family last weekend. He has two children.

“We try to get most of their clothes that go all the way through the school year,” he said.

Hart said he understood why lawmakers ended tax-free weekend, but he wondered what would become of the money. “They can’t make any sense out of any tax money anyways,” he said.