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Sales Tax–Free Weekend Popular But May Not be Best Fiscal Policy for Oklahoma


While shoppers save a few bucks over the three-day stretch, policy experts say there are some drawbacks to Oklahoma's sales tax–free weekend.

Shoppers saved $7.4 million last year, but Oklahoma Policy Institute’s Paul Shinn says that’s money not going into the coffers of a state that already collects less in taxes than nearly every other state and is still spending less in adjusted dollars than it was a decade ago.

"In a state that is rolling in the money, the sales tax holiday would — in our opinion — make more sense than it does in a state that’s strapped for money," Shinn said.

Sales tax is already regressive — it takes up a bigger chunk of low-income families’ money than it does wealthier families’ — and Shinn said the holiday likely benefits wealthier families more.

"If you’re going to save a lot of money through the sales tax holiday, that means you need to kind of plan ahead for it, and you need to have the money in the bank to buy $400, $500, $1,000 worth of clothes for your kids," Shinn said.

And the sales tax holiday can just be confusing for retailers.

"There’s a lot of categories they have to figure out. What’s on holiday today and what’s not? It’s costly to them, it’s confusing to staff and I think to some extent it’s confusing to those of us who are buying things, too," Shinn said.

While most clothing and shoes qualify, some specialty items like athletic apparel and shoes don’t, and all individual items must be less than $100.