Virginians, Ready for Your Energy Efficient Appliance Sales Tax Holiday?

October 8, 2008

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From 12:01 AM on Friday, October 10, 2008, to midnight on Monday, October 13, 2008, the Virginia 5% sales tax will be waived on Energy Star certified energy efficient appliances that sell for less than $2,500, and are purchased for noncommercial use.

I have a vision of the Oklahoma Land Rush, when the territory was opened to settlers at precisely 12:00 PM on April 22, 1889. 50,000 people lined up waiting for that moment when they could all charge, first-come, first-serve.

Not being an expert on the matter, I will assume for purposes of this post that it’s a good thing that people own energy-efficient appliances. But if it is such a good thing, why tax it for all but three days of the year? More importantly, there are other equally good things out there, and why must they pay tax?

Like most sales tax holidays, this is just a gimmick. Politicians can crow about how they cut taxes for three days only, and retailers get tons of state-paid publicity for what amounts to a paltry 5% OFF sale. Not everything qualifies for the tax holiday, so consumers can get snookered at the cash register. Virginians should be used to the disruption, since this holiday is the third on some arbitrarily picked product this year (May 25-31 was for hurricane preparedness equipment, and August 1-3 was for school supplies under $20 and clothing and footwear under $100).

Also, the state helpfully notes that the Energy Star Sales Tax Holiday is not the same as the Energy Star Income Tax Deduction, whereby taxpayers may deduct 20% of the sales tax paid in purchasing Energy Star products. I’m glad they cleared that up before it got complicated.


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