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VA’s Sales Tax Holiday Gives Temporary Boost to Low-Income Families

During the Virginia Sales Tax Holiday, folks can buy qualifying goods such as school supplies, clothing, and hurricane and emergency-preparedness items without paying sales tax. (Adobe stock)
During the Virginia Sales Tax Holiday, folks can buy qualifying goods such as school supplies, clothing, and hurricane and emergency-preparedness items without paying sales tax. (Adobe stock)
August 1, 2019

RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia's sales tax holiday begins Friday and lasts until late Sunday night.

The three-day event aims to help families save money on state and local taxes for back-to-school items, which especially will help low-income families in the Commonwealth, according to Margaret Nimmo Holland, executive director of Voices for Virginia's Children.

Although the tax break is welcomed, Nimmo Holland says policymakers need to provide more permanent solutions to help children in poverty.

In Virginia, one in three children lives in a family that is economically disadvantaged, and Nimmo Holland says that means the parents earn less than $49,000 a year for a family of four.

"Certainly, school supplies and clothes and shoes for school are very important, and so this little bit of help this weekend is important to those families,” she states. “It's just as important for our policymakers to put it in context and realize that it's helpful but it's a very small step and we need to take larger steps to impact more families."

Nimmo Holland says one step policymakers could take that would help low-income families is to raise the rate for the state's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

She says the rate hasn't kept up with inflation, and raising it could have helped parents buy more supplies during this tax-free weekend.

The sales tax holiday only happens once a year, and it lets people buy essential items for school such as supplies, clothing and footwear.

Items such as notebooks, lunch boxes and reference books are eligible to buy tax-free if they are $20 or less.

Nimmo Holland says low-income families might have a hard time being able to afford to buy everything their children need to start school in the fall.

"The added expenses of supplies and fees that are necessary for kids to participate in schools really need to be looked at,” she points out. “And I think that for some parents, it really is a burden and schools need to consider what other resources might be available in their community."

Virginia's tax-free holiday also helps people save money on hurricane equipment. Families can buy portable generators tax-free if they cost $1,000 or less per item.

Diane Bernard, Public News Service - VA