Morgan Sweeney | August 5, 2023
(The Center Square) – Every year around this time, Virginians get a sales tax holiday for one weekend before the start of school.
But this year, Virginia’s sales tax holiday for select school-readiness, hurricane preparedness and utilities items may itself be on holiday.
Though predicted to be an “unparalleled” and “record” back-to-school shopping season for dollars spent according to the National Retail Federation, Virginia may join the majority of states that do not have a sales tax holiday, despite residents having come to expect one.
Meant to take the edge off of back-to-school shopping for parents, the holiday has occurred every year since 2006 in the commonwealth, when it was established under then-Democratic Gov. Mark Warner.
The General Assembly has, however, sent mixed messages for this August. The 2022 Appropriation Act brought an end to the holiday as of the start of this fiscal year. There was to be no sales tax holiday this weekend or any other in August.
An amendment to the budget, which ordinarily would have been passed by July 1, could have reversed that law – except that this year was the second time in 50 years that the General Assembly hasn’t passed a budget by now, according to the Richmond-Times Dispatch.
Virginia is one of several states that operates on a two-year budget. The two-year spending plan is passed in even years, but budget amendments are passed every odd year to further accommodate state needs and initiatives.
Budget negotiations broke down in late June, and budget negotiators didn’t meet again until a couple weeks ago. Senators are in the process of reviewing the latest revisions now.
Republican Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee Del. Barry Knight said that if the budget committee is able to get the budget passed, the state sales tax holiday will be reinstated for this school year, though it will likely be later than normal.
The average family with “children in elementary through high school” will spend about $890 on school supplies this year, up $25 from last year, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. Respondents mostly attributed the increase to having to buy more electronics.