This weekend brings the annual Tax-Free Holiday to Texas, and if ever a grimmer event deserved less to be called by such a festive honorific, maybe it would be Depression Eve.
What began as a vote-getting way to keep some money in schoolparents' pockets has evolved into a death march of endurance, annoyance, confusion, frustration and exasperation.
There are many reasons why it's perhaps best to avoid shopping -- or going anywhere near any shopping establishment -- during this "holiday."
5. You need to be a CPA/MBA/IRS lawyer to figure out the rules Any time there are "guidelines" involving taxes, chances are they won't be simple. But the tax-free holiday details take things to new, bizarre heights.
Athletic equipment is not eligible to be exempt from sales tax, for instance. But "tennis shoes, jogging suits and swimsuits...are commonly worn for purposes other than athletic activity and thus qualify for the exemption."
Oh yeah: Is there a more versatile piece of clothing than a swimsuit? Formalwear, business casual, Take Your Daughters To Work Day, it's all good.
And remember the funnest part: You will have to determine whether a certain piece of clothing qualifies for the exemption while a moaning, bored toddler has a vise-like grip on your leg, while your sullen teenager is making clear everything you point to is laaaame and while every second shopper is busy screaming across the store to have their kid get over here this instant to try on this multi-use swimsuit.
4. The holiday conveniently compresses all traffic into one weekend Without the tax-free holiday, the main thing setting the schedule for heading to Target was inertia. That way the eager-beaver power-shoppers, the ones who have to make sure you are aware of every bargain they have gotten, got their trip done early so they could lord over you all the now-sold-out composition books and clear backpacks that you will never lay your hands on.
Now, however, even the eager beavers -- in order to remain true to their code -- have to shop during the mandated hours. Meaning more people in the stores, and meaning more of those people in the stores are the demanding ones who tie up salesclerks because their shopping needs are so much more important than yours.
3. You're saving what, a little over eight percent? Yeah, it's usually tied with other sales, but still --if we're being forced through this chamber of horrors, give us double-figures.
2. Half of the merchandise is on the floor Let's assume you're not one of those people sipping on a vente latte in the parking lot waiting for the doors to open. Instead you don't get to the store until the decadent hour of, say, 8 a.m.
Be prepared to enter your son's dorm room.
By that point, salespeople have thrown in the towel on trying to keep things straightened up, the broken windows theory of keeping pride in the surroundings has been abandoned, and it's become a full-fledged jungle out there.
We're sure the floors are spic-and-span, though, so don't worry about germs or stains or anything like that. Just go with the flow.
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SHOW ME HOW
1. It's a wonderful way to kick off the weekend You fight your way through snarling, peevish crowds, all frantic to get their own while denying others; you wait on line at the register for three light-years while someone has to have the intricacies of an expired "10 percent off" coupon explained to them, you put up with kids who couldn't care less about your efforts; you get in traffic to fight your way back to the house....and when you get home it's all of 10 a.m. Satruday.
A full weekend of honey-dos awaits!!
Heaven, thy name is tax-free weekend.