Sales tax holidays. Whether you love ‘em or hate ‘em, they’re here to stay. So as a small business owner, you might as well make the most of them. Tax holidays can bring more people through your door than at any other time of the year. But to truly profit, you’ll need to comply with your state ’s regulations and brush up on your marketing skills.
Let’s face it. Tax-free holidays can be confusing. You can have more people enter your store, but somehow earn less. To really profit, you’ll need to comply with state laws, correctly price your products, and encourage customers to return. Fortunately, we have a few retail sales tips to help.
It may seem like a no-brainer, but know the tax-free dates and plan ahead for them. As a small business owner, you’ll need to comply with these dates and keep careful records of them. You’ll also need detailed records for tax reporting purposes or if the IRS audits your business.
First, identify which items qualify as tax-free. For example, some states support children and families by offering tax-free school supplies. Other states allow clothes, groceries, or disaster relief items to be sold without tax. Depending on what you sell, not every item in your store may be sold without tax.
In addition, many states put price caps on goods that can be tax-free. For example, a state might say that items up to $100 qualify. That means if you sell an item that’s $110, a consumer would have to pay sales tax. The bottom line: It’s best to brush up on your state’s tax laws ahead of time and talk to an accountant if you have questions about them.
A tax-free holiday can bring more people to your storefront. This is great news — as long as you’re prepared. Allow ample time ahead of the holiday to train your employees to abide by the holiday tax-free laws. Specifically, they’ll need to know:
It’s also important to prepare your space for increased foot traffic. Ask yourself: Is there ample space to walk and shop? Is my inventory fully stocked? Do I have enough staff working to handle the traffic? These are questions you should answer well before a tax-free holiday begins.
As we mentioned, many states put a cap on items that qualify for tax-free holidays. As a result, it may make sense to temporarily lower your prices so they meet this cap — and sell. For example, if your state puts a $100 price cap on disaster-relief items, and you sell a multifunctional tool and knife for $105, consider lowering the price to $99 during the tax-free holiday.
Alternatively, you may benefit from slightly raising the price. This way you can capitalize on some of what consumers normally would pay in sales tax. For example, if your state’s sales tax rate is 6.25%, you could raise the price of an item by 3%. Consumers still get a break and your business profits. It’s a win for everyone.
This is the time to get loud and market your business well. After all, tax-free holidays can create a lot of noise and competition for your business. Think about what you’ll do to bring customers to your store, rather than to your competitions’.
Ahead of the holiday, try out some of these promotional activities:
If you don’t already have business insurance, or if you’re considering switching policies, now’s the time. You don’t want an accident happening during a tax-free holiday while you have “less-than-ideal” coverage.
At Simply Business, we can help you find one of these affordable insurance policies and more:
Plus, we’ll make it easy and fast. Just fill out our online quote form and answer a few questions about your business. Then we’ll show you policies for you to choose from to help protect your retail store and to meet your budget. Prefer a phone call? No problem. Give one of our licensed insurance agents a call today. They’re here to help guide you through the process and answer any of your questions.
Our advice is simple: As a retailer, there’s no need to dread busy tax-free days. Instead, prepare for them and look forward to the opportunities that they may bring. This may be the big break that you’ve been looking for — and a time to get ahead of your business’s yearly profits.
I earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin at Madison (go Bucky). After realizing my first job might involve carrying a police scanner at 2 am in pursuit of “newsworthy” crimes, I decided I was better suited for freelance blogging and marketing writing. Since 2010, I’ve owned my freelance writing business, EST Creative. When I’m not penning, doodling ideas, or chatting with clients, you’ll find me hiking with my husband, baby boy, and 2 mischievous mutts.
Emily writes on a number of topics such as entrepreneurship, small business networking, and budgeting.
This content is for general, informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting, or financial advice. Please obtain expert advice from industry specific professionals who may better understand your business’s needs. Read our full disclaimer
*Harborway Insurance policies are underwritten by Spinnaker Insurance Company and reinsured by Munich Re, an A+ (Superior) rated insurance carrier by AM Best. Harborway Insurance is a brand name of Harborway Insurance Agency, LLC, a licensed insurance producer in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. California license #6004217.