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Kent County News: Franchot and state retailers association announce tax-free week scholarship contes

ANNAPOLIS — Comptroller Peter Franchot and the Maryland Retailers Association announce a social media contest coinciding with Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week in which two winners will receive $2,500 and $1,000 scholarships, respectively, to any Maryland university, college or trade school.

Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week is Sunday, Aug. 12 to 18.

In the week leading up to and during Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week, shoppers should take a picture or make a video that incorporates the theme of "Maryland" (the state colors, school apparel, sports team, a crab, etc.), write a creative caption and use #shopmdtaxfree to submit an entry on any or all social media platforms.

Platforms include Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

According to a news release, MRA, which is providing the scholarships, will select the two entries at the week's conclusion that best reflect the spirit of Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week.

"The State of Maryland loses money during Tax-Free Week, but it's a big win for locally owned businesses and for shoppers," said Franchot in the release. "This will be the easiest scholarship Maryland college students will ever have the chance to win. There's no application, no essay and no interview — just shop tax-free!"

"Tax-Free Week provides a much-needed boost to brick-and-mortar retailers in our state, and we encourage all consumers to support their local businesses," said Cailey Locklair Tolle, MRA president. "This year we are again thrilled to help promote shopping local and Tax-Free Week by offering scholarships to our contest winners."

During Tax-Free Week, any single qualifying article of clothing or footwear priced $100 or less — regardless of how many items are purchased at the same time — will be exempt from the state's 6 percent sales tax. The first $40 of any backpack or book bag purchase also is tax-free.

In the weeks leading up to and during Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week, Franchot is visiting local businesses across the state to encourage shoppers to take advantage of these savings and to participate in the contest.

Resulting from legislation passed by the Maryland General Assembly in 2007, the tax-free week is held annually during the second week in August. Businesses selling items that are not eligible for inclusion in the tax-free week can still participate in Shop Maryland. Under "Sellers Privilege," other unqualified merchandise can be sold tax-free, but the retailer is responsible for paying the sales tax owed to the state.

For more information on qualifying items, visit marylandtaxes.gov, email taxhelp@comp.state.md.us or call 410-260-7980 (Central Maryland) or toll-free at 1-800-MD-TAXES.

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