Nightly News   |  August 04, 2013

States offer tax breaks for back to school shoppers

Back to school shopping is the second biggest retail event behind Christmas sales, and a growing number of states are offering a sales-tax break on school supplies as an incentive to spend. NBC’s Rehema Ellis reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> it's the start of august and a back-to-school ritual has begun. the annual shopping spree for school supply that's can cost hundreds of dollars. to make it a little easier, more states are offering breaks on the sales tax , but is this good policy? we get more tonight from nbc's chief education correspondent.

>> reporter: it's that time of year again.

>> get one of these.

>> reporter: all across the country, moms and dads are crowding the stores to stock up on school supplies. getting their little ones ready to go back to school.

>> we tried to get here as early as we could to avoid the craziness.

>> two weeks out i start saving and looking for deals.

>> it is very surprising how much we spend.

>> reporter: terri is shopping for three today.

>> tough in the economy right now.

>> we will probably be around $150 for three students.

>> reporter: the pencils, pens and binders can quickly add up, which is why some states are giving parents a break from paying the sales tax . at least 17 states are waiving the tax on school supplies and clothing, 12 states doing so this weekend.

>> it makes a difference when you're spending a chunk of money. any little bit you can save.

>> reporter: discounts on the tax break all benefit the consum consumer, but can the states afford to lose the rove knew right now?

>> there's a real risk that six to 12 months from now the revenues gone today will be sorely missed because of slower economic growth.

>> reporter: states do lose out on potentially mm-hillions of dollars in sales tax revenue very hard to recoup. and once the states start a sales tax holiday it becomes very popular with the consumer tks's very hard for the states to pull back on it.

>> reporter: especially when shoppers are watching the bottom line and tightening those purse strings. the average family will spend around $635 this year, down almost 8% from about $688 last year.

>> the name of the game for parents this year really is reuse what you can and of course buy what you need. they're going to spend with practicality and cost in mind.

>> as a mom, i feel like that's amy job, to save where we can, whether it be buying in bulk or recycling and things like that.

>> reporter: and hoping that those sales tax breaks will return the next school year. nbc news, orlando, florida.