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Sun., Oct. 4
Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
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Mall ‘dissapointed’ county didn’t adopt sales tax exemptions


MASSENA - Officials with St. Lawrence Centre are hopeful that the recently implemented sales tax exemptions on clothing and footwear can provide them with a boost in sales.

While a sales tax exemption has existed for such items costing less than $55 since April 1 of last year, St. Lawrence Centre Marketing Manager Ronald J. Patnode said the restoration of the exemption on items up to $110 is a much better benefit for consumers.

“A pair of sneakers or shoes can easily get into that high range,” he said.

The exemption was first passed in 2000, however, from time to time the state has suspended it, in an effort to balance its own budget. According to information from the New York State Budget Division, the most recent exemption was in place from October 2010 to March 31, 2011 when it was reinstated for items up to $55.

Prior to that, Mr. Patnode recalled, the state hosted tax-free weeks, usually about twice a year.

“Those tax-free weeks proved to be very successful,” Mr. Patnode said, adding at that time the county also dropped their sales tax for the week, something they are not doing this time around.

“I was pleased to see the state doing it, but I’m disappointed the county didn’t follow suit,” he said, adding there were several counties across the state who did, although none in the north country.

“It’s going to benefit not only our Canadian customers but everyone,” he said. “You’re talking about a 4 percent discount.”

Mr. Patnode pointed out the level of excitement varies greatly, based on how it’s billed.

“If a retailer said they were having a big sale and offered 4 percent off, they would get laughed at, but if you say you’re not paying state sales tax people love that.”

Retailers in the mall agreed.

“Now that there is no more of the state tax, it’s going to be a bigger draw for Canadians,” said JC Penney Interim Store Manager John W. LoVecchio. “It will also benefit the local community as well because now it’s dollar stretches farther.”

Sherry Englert, who manages Olympia Sports, said she has yet to notice the impact of the sales tax exemption, but she said she’s excited about the potential changes in Canadian tariff rules.

A proposal from Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is calling for a change in tariff rules that would allow Canadian shoppers in the United States for a day to bring back $200 worth of merchandise without having to pay duty tax on it, quadruple the $50 currently allowed. For visits lasting two days or more, the duty free amount would double from $400 to $800.

“That will be a boost come back to school season,” Ms. Englert said.

Mr. LoVecchio said the potential change in tariff rules will likely lead to shoppers spending more money while they are here.

“That’s a lot more things they can bring back now,” he said. “I think it will make shoppers less apprehensive about what they buy. It can only help us.”

Mr. Patnode agreed, also referring back to the state’s sales tax exemption, “Those are two very positive things for the centre.”

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