By Senator Patty Ritchie
By the time you read this, your relatives have probably all gone home, the leftovers from the big meal have all been eaten and the Thanksgiving buzz that takes over most households this time of year has died down.
With Thanksgiving 2012 now in the books, many people are focusing on the next big task at hand: holiday shopping.
Every year, it seems we’re spending more and more money on the holidays. In fact, the 2012 season is off to a record start.
According to a recent survey, a record 247 million shoppers visited stores and websites over the four-day holiday weekend. That’s up 9.2 percent from last year. Not only did more Americans come out to shop, they spent more, too.
Surveys show the average holiday shopper spent roughly $423 over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, up from the $398 spent last year. Lastly, overall spending totaled just over $59 billion, up nearly 13 percent from 2011.
There’s no disputing it, the holidays are in fact expensive.
However, there is some silver lining when it comes to buying gifts for friends and family this year. When you shop, you’ll get to take advantage of a state sales tax break on clothing purchases of up to $110.
You might remember this break from several years back.
New York exempted clothing sales from the 4 percent sales tax until 2009, when the legislature and former governor raised over 100 taxes and fees, along with billions of dollars in new spending.
The measure was repealed last spring, and is now saving the typical family of four nearly $200 annually.
It’s important to note that in addition to saving in stores, shoppers will also be able to take advantage of the state sales tax break on clothing purchases when they shop online.
While online shopping can be convenient (you can’t shop in your pajamas anywhere else!) fraud and scams are very common in the virtual marketplace.
For information on how you can protect yourself, I encourage you to take a look at the New York State Attorney General’s “Online Purchasing Tips” at http://www.ag.ny.gov/internet/online-purchase-tips
From fancy meals and decorations to buying gifts for friends and family members, the purchases made during the holiday season certainly add up.
That’s why I’m glad hardworking New Yorkers will once again be able to take advantage of this sales tax break, which not only allows people take part in the spirit of the season but helps keep more money in their pockets, too.