ARNOLD — Standing in the middle of Anne Arundel Community College’s campus on Thursday, Sept. 14, Kent Islander Katie Huffman accepted a scholarship for winning the inaugural Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week social media photo contest.

Surrounded by friends, family, school administrators and the Comptroller, Huffman thanked the comptroller’s office and the Maryland Retailers Association for creating the scholarship contest.

Huffman, a first year student at AACC, said she is undecided on what field of study she will enter, but she is completing general education courses this year.

Though the Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week has been held for multiple years, it was the first year a scholarship component was added to the sales tax forgiveness week. Participants were asked to take a photo that best reflected the spirit of the week and post it to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with a creative caption using the hashtag #shopmdtaxfree.

Scholarships of $1,500 and $500 were given to Maryland university, college or trade school students by an educational foundation through the Maryland Retailers Association.

Maryland Retailers Association President Caile Locklair Tolle said the goal of the online campaign was to get people thinking and shopping locally. “When you shop in Maryland your tax dollars stay here in this state as opposed to shopping online and we don’t really know where any of that money goes,” she said.

Locklair Tolle said Huffman’s post stood out because it was creative and was thoughtful. Through her Instagram account, Huffman shared a photo holding up a blue long-sleeved shirt with a crab on the front in red, white and blue while shopping in Annapolis during the tax-free week.

The caption read: “who could be crabby shopping tax free?”

For one week in August, all qualified clothing and footwear $100 or less did not have the state’s six percent sales tax added. Comptroller Peter Franchot said the creation of the week turned one of the “dog days of August when nobody’s shopping” into one of the most heavily shopped weeks throughout the year.

Though he said the state loses about $6 million in taxes, but more money is made up because people end up buying items that aren’t exempt and to make up the difference.

“The annual tax-free week benefits all Marylanders not only because of the great deal for consumers but also for the boost in revenue for small businesses,” Franchot said.

Added to the tax-free week for the first time was sales tax forgiveness on backpacks $40 and less. Locklair Tolle said legislation will be introduced next session to add school supplies to the list of tax-free items.

Huffman’s sister, Jennifer, said she was proud of her because of the hard work she shows day in and day out. “I’m proud of her as a student because even when she comes home after working and has hours of homework she’ll stay dedicated,” she said.

Huffman’s mom, Mary, and grandma, Jane, were given Comptroller Medallions as Franchot gives those out to Marylanders who make a difference.

Follow Mike Davis on Twitter: @mike_kibaytimes.

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