Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal
Twenty-four pencils. One box of crayons. Two pink erasers. These are just a few of the items on Albuquerque Public Schools’ back-to-school supply lists for fifth grade students. Excluding costs for backpacks, clothes, shoes, and tech, the list totals almost $50 at Target.
However, New Mexico parents will get a small reprieve from school supply costs next weekend as some back-to-school purchases become tax-free.
The New Mexico Tax and Revenue Department is preparing for its annual tax holiday Aug. 5-7 for businesses selling back-to-school products like laptops, clothes and backpacks.
New Mexico Parent Teacher Association President Stephanie Hansen said she keeps her eye out for the tax holiday every year.
“Even that small percentage makes a difference when you buy a lot of stuff,” said Hansen, who is shopping for her two kids.
It’s not only parents who take advantage of the break. Whitney Holland, president of American Federation of Teachers New Mexico said that teachers spend on average $750 of their own money on classroom supplies.
Holland said many teachers may be unaware of the tax holiday.
“When I was a teacher I was always caught off guard by the tax holiday,” said Holland, who taught third grade in Los Alamos.
Holland would like to see the tax holiday expand to a monthly program for teachers as supplies run out.
“It’s nice at the start of the school year, but halfway through the year the supplies need to be restocked,” Holland said. “It takes off a little pressure, but there’s always room for growth.”
Stephanie Schardin Clarke, cabinet secretary for Taxation and Revenue Department, said the department estimates that New Mexicans receive between $4 million and $5 million in tax relief each year from the tax holiday.
“It has a big impact on teachers and parents who have a lot of expenses,” said Schardin Clarke, who plans to take advantage of the tax holiday when shopping for her own children. “We know that family budgets can be tight and there are all these necessities that families need to buy this time of year.”
The tax holiday, which started in 2005, occurs every year on the first weekend of August. There’s no age requirement, so even college students are able to use the savings. Businesses aren’t obligated to participate, but Schardin Clarke said that many big box and local stores choose to participate.
Loving High School science teacher Tyler Finch said he never heard of the tax holiday before this year. He said he and his wife, another teacher, are lucky to be in a school district where teachers don’t have to worry about getting the supplies they need.
“We’re blessed,” Finch said. “We work in a great district that really helps get teachers the supplies they need.”
Ellen Bernstein, president of the Albuquerque Teachers Federation, said the costs add up, especially when parents have more than one child, or when teachers are trying to set up their classrooms. But, she said she believes the tax holiday helps alleviate some of the financial burden.
“Not paying tax is certainly helpful,” Bernstein said. “Any little bit helps if you’re living paycheck to paycheck.”
Visit www.tax.newmexico.gov/news-alerts/tax-holiday/ for more information about qualifying items. Price limits apply, and retailers can choose whether they will participate.