Is taxing clothing purchases a good fit for Minnesota?

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Try this idea on for size: what if Minnesota lowered its sales tax rate and then expanded the tax to apply to clothing?

Taxing clothes is not a new idea. Most states already do it and it's been suggested before in Minnesota. A bill sponsored by DFL Sen. Ann Rest of New Hope would apply to purchases of items that cost $200 or more. Rest tells MPR it would raise enough money to lower the overall sales tax rate and would help stabilize state revenue, making big deficits or surpluses less likely.

WCCO notes another bill at the Capitol would extend the sales to tax to all clothing purchases, while providing tax credits for moderate-income families.

Not surprisingly, clothing stores are fighting the proposal. They say Minnesota's status as one of only seven states that do not tax clothing helps draw shoppers from elsewhere. An executive at the Mall of America says the phrase "no sales tax" is enough to get international shoppers to bypass the coasts and bring their euros and yen to Bloomington.

It's also a touchy issue in border communities. The co-owner of a Moorhead bridal shop tells WDAY the absence of a tax on apparel was the key factor in deciding to locate on the Minnesota side of the river.

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