NJ school supplies sales tax holiday starts, but who does it benefit?

Some experts say businesses may end up with more of a benefit than families buying the items
A Black girl holding markers.
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CHERRY HILL, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — You won’t have to pay sales tax for back-to-school items in New Jersey for 10 days starting Saturday.

Experts say the waiving of state sales tax for school supplies may seem like a break for families, but businesses could end up the real winners.

The tax holiday means you won’t have to pay the 6.625% sales tax on anything from pens to some computers, and even art supplies and sports equipment. It includes both in-person and online retailers. Click here for the full list of approved items.

Patricia Griffin’s son starts school on Monday, so they ran out for a last-minute pencil case. She was happy to hear about the tax break.

“I think it will help everyone,” Griffin said. “People will go buy more if they know it helps the economy.”

Michael Hayes, a public policy professor at Rutgers University-Camden, said he expects it to help families to a degree.

“I believe the impact of the sales tax holiday in New Jersey will be positive, but modest,” he said.

Hayes added that savings could get washed out if businesses hike their prices.

“They might do this, because they know there is going to be an increase in demand for the goods and services they’re selling, so that they can increase their price in response,” he said.

Elaine Zundl, who is leading the new public policy master's program at Rowan University, adds that there are other savings options for consumers.

“If folks are going out to shop and they want to save money on items they’ve been keeping their eye on, they should use an app or a tracker to make sure they’re actually getting the best deal and aren’t just being drawn to the store for the sales tax holiday,” Zundl said.

“If anything, it's going to benefit wealthier households that have been waiting to make high ticket purchases.”

Still, shoppers say they will take advantage of whatever puts more money in their pockets.

You don’t have to be a New Jersey resident to take advantage of the holiday.

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