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Texas' 'tax-free weekend' runs Aug. 9 to Aug. 11

This weekend, parents of school-aged children will cram Dallas-area shopping malls and department stores to take advantage of Texas' "tax-free weekend."

Between Aug. 9 and Aug. 11, Texas will temporarily suspend the normal sales tax on most clothing, shoes and school supplies under $100. The idea is to give families with children a break on what can be a very expensive time of year.

We normally write about tax controversies, disputes with the IRS and other tax scenarios that affect individuals, but we wanted to write about the tax holiday because it presents a chance to discuss an interesting public affairs matter.

First, it seems fair to say that most Texans are in favor of giving families with children a little financial relief, since everyone knows that raising children can be expensive. There is anecdotal evidence that the tax-free weekend is good for Texas businesses, too, since it inspires people to shop and lures customers away from websites like Amazon, which typically don't charge sales taxes for residents of many states.

There is something to be said, though, for the idea that if sales taxes represent a financial strain on families (as the existence of a tax-free weekend seems to admit) then why do we have it at all? Of course it raises money for things like roads, bridges and police, and of course our state needs that money -- but if is a hardship on people who can ill afford it, should we not look for other means of raising this necessary revenue.

We are interested in engaging Tarrant County residents in thoughtful discussion. If you have any reaction to what we have presented here, we invite you to leave it the Comments section of this blog.

Source: Houston Business Journal, "Consumers, businesses hope Texas' tax-free weekend pays off," Chris Shelton, Aug. 8, 2013

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