EASTON — Comptroller Peter Franchot wants to say thank you to Maryland consumers, and he hopes residents can enjoy the annual Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week.

The tax-free week began Sunday, Aug. 11, and runs through Saturday, Aug. 17. During that time, any single qualifying article of clothing or footwear priced $100 or less — regardless of how many items are purchased at the same time — will be exempt from the state’s 6% sales tax. The first $40 of any backpack or bookbag purchase also is tax-free.

“This is an effort by the state to say, ‘We appreciate all of our consumers and the strong economic bones that they give to the state of Maryland,’” Franchot said. “It is a potentially large savings because it is coupled with discounts from retail stores and clothing and shoe manufacturers. I champion it because I believe in it.

“We have a consumer-based economy. A lot of our prosperity comes from people recirculating these dollars that they are earning. I also as the comptroller for the state of Maryland love to see out-of-state license plates from Delaware, Virginia, Pennsylvania and (Washington), D.C., visiting Maryland because they are attracted by the tax-free shopping.”

The comptroller once again is joining with the Maryland Retailers Association to promote a social media contest in which two winners will receive $2,500 and $1,000 scholarships, respectively, to any Maryland university, college or trade school.

To enter the contest during Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week, Maryland college and trade school students simply need to:

• Take a fun photo or video while shopping.

• Write a catchy caption. Be creative to catch the eye of the judges.

• Post to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, and use the hashtag #shopmdtaxfree.

Shoppers can like or follow the official social media pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more information. MRA, which is providing the scholarships, will select the two entries that best reflect the spirit of Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week.

“Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week is a great opportunity for parents to get deals on back-to-school clothes and for anyone to refresh a tired wardrobe,” Franchot said. “And with the scholarship contest, two creative students have an opportunity to save on school costs simply by taking a fun photo or video while shopping, write a snappy caption and post it on the official social media pages.”

Franchot estimates he has made more than 8,000 visits to Maryland businesses in every part of the state during the past 10 years. Last week, he visited businesses in Chevy Chase, Bel Air and Baltimore. During tax-free week, he is scheduled to visit businesses in Elkton and Easton.

“I like to have a connection between the residents of the state,” Franchot said. “I find it inspiring because our communities are so helpful to other people. I enjoy recognizing and celebrating businesses because they present the best values to the state of Maryland.”

For more information on qualifying items, visit marylandtaxes.gov, email taxhelp@comp.state.md.us or call 1-800-MD-TAXES.

Follow Caroline/Dorchester Editor Dustin Holt on Twitter @Dustin_StarDem.

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