This summer, 17 states that usually charge sales tax on clothing have announced tax-free shopping days—a welcome boost for small retailers, who can build promotions and in-store events around these days to attract the maximum number of back-to-school shoppers. Here are the days that states have announced so far. Information is current as of June 15, 2018; check taxadmin.org/sales-tax-holidays for updates and for links to state websites where retailers can find rules, including details on what specific items will be eligible in each state.
Alabama July 20–22
Arkansas August 4–5
Connecticut August 19–25
Florida August 3–5
Iowa August 3–4
Louisiana August 3–4
Maryland August 12–18
Mississippi July 27–28
Missouri August 3–5
New Mexico August 3–5
Ohio August 3–5
Oklahoma August 3–5
South Carolina August 3–5
Tennessee July 27–29
Texas August 10–12
Virginia August 3–5
Wisconsin August 1–5
Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Vermont always exempt clothing from sales tax; in Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island, clothing up to a certain cap is always exempt.
And best business credit cards for 2018
Small-business owners carry twice as many credit cards as consumers, according to Nav, which offers online tools, apps and information to help small businesses make educated funding and credit decisions. In its survey of personal credit card users, Nav found that consumers carry an average of 2.32 credit cards, while small-business owners average 4.78 personal cards. The average total limit on consumers’ cards was $18,401, on business owners’ cards, $35,291.
It’s not surprising that business owners use personal credit cards to fund their business—other types of lending are not always available. The problem, Nav reports, is that “balances rise quickly and can impact [owners’] personal credit scores significantly.” By maxing out your cards, you can ruin your personal credit score. And, says Nav, “By leaning mostly or exclusively on personal credit cards, you miss out on opportunities to build a strong business credit profile and access better financing options for your business.” Also, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to write off the interest from personal credit cards on your taxes; a business credit card makes this possible.
Business credit cards do not offer the same protections as personal credit cards, because they’re not covered by the CARD Act of 2009. So credit card companies are free to jack up interest rates without notice. But with careful management, they offer advantages and perks. WalletHub, a financial advisory website, suggests using a business rewards card for everyday spending, but for purchases that will take several months to repay, a consumer card with a 0 percent introductory promotional rate is better. WalletHub compared 1,000-plus cards to compile its 2018 list of best business credit cards.
Initial Bonus: Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
Cash Back: Capital One Spark Cash for Business
Big Spenders: SimplyCash Plus Business Credit Card from American Express
Free Nights: Radisson Business Credit Card
Gas Rewards: Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard credit card
Office Supplies: Staples Business Credit Card
Balance Transfers: The Amex EveryDay Credit Card
Fair Credit: Capital One Spark Classic for Business
Bad Credit: Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card
Changes focused on helping businesses run better
Shopify has announced new features and products aimed to help merchants work more easily and effectively on its e-commerce platform and in-store POS. The company’s Unite conference this May described several tools the company hopes will help stores market more effectively, improve the customer experience, manage more efficiently and, of course, sell more.
This summer, Shopify merchants will have access to a brand-new marketing section within the Shopify Admin. Merchants will be able to create digital marketing campaigns all within Shopify—e-mail campaigns, social-media posts, referral campaigns, discount banners, paid ad campaigns and more, all in one place.
Shopify Ping will be a new mobile workspace where merchants can interact with and respond to customer messages using Facebook Messenger, all from within the Shopify Ping app. Built into the app is a virtual business assistant called Kit, which can help you plan, create and manage marketing activities on the go. Kit will run Facebook ads, Instagram ads, e-mail campaigns and more. You’ll be able to talk to Kit through a chat interface directly within the Shopify Ping app. (For download availability, check shopify.com/ping.)
New discount types—buy one, get one and quantity discounts—will be added to the platform so storeowners can run more creative promotions.
Returns and Exchanges for Shopify POS will allow stores to accept returns in-store for purchases that were made either in-store or online.
Starting this summer, merchants with more than one location will be able to add, update and track their inventory across multiple locations from within Shopify POS. “After each sale, inventory will be automatically adjusted, giving merchants a clear view of their products’ inventory per location, when they might be running low and when items are out of stock,” reports the company.
This fall, Shopify will release a new wireless Tap & Chip Reader for its POS. A dock that goes with it will allow stores to create a more customer-facing payment setup.