Ohio's First Sales Tax Holiday
A Guest Column by State Senator Kevin Bacon
August 03, 2015
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Next week, Black Friday will get a run for its money. For the first time ever, a new Sales Tax Holiday will exempt sales tax on essential back-to-school items for Ohio families as summer winds to a close. As a father of three, I know firsthand how quickly the cost of clothes, shoes and school supplies can add up. Just as many children dread the return to school in August, many parents dread the financial burden they will shoulder during this time. The Sales Tax Holiday is designed with them in mind. 

Last December, Governor Kasich signed into law legislation that I proposed in 2013 to create a Sales Tax Holiday in Ohio. At that point, 18 other states had already instituted their own sales tax holidays, and I saw no reason for Ohio consumers to miss out. The beauty of the Sales Tax Holiday is that it offers every Ohioan the same opportunity to find significant cost savings, regardless of their income and economic situation. From 12:01am on Friday, August 7, to 11:59pm on Sunday, August 9, all online and in-store vendors will be required to waive the collection of state sales tax on designated items.

The Sales Tax Holiday applies to items of clothing priced at $75 or less, commonly used school supplies—crayons, book bags, pencils, etc.—priced at $20 or less, and school instructional materials like textbooks and workbooks priced at $20 or less. The price limits apply per item, so you can buy as many tax-exempt items under the price limit as you wish, either online or in stores.

Keep in mind that you can still use coupons on items that are exempt, and retailers will be offering additional price reductions to allow more of their products to qualify. For example, if you buy $80 shoes with a 10 percent off coupon, which comes to $72 after the discount is applied, the price of the shoes falls below the $75 limit and qualifies for the sales tax exemption. 

According to the National Retail Federation, the average family with school-age children spent an estimated $669 on back-to-school supplies and clothing in 2014, or $470 without factoring in the cost of computers and electronics. After the state's 5.75 percent sales and use tax is waived, that same family will save at least $27 if they buy their school supplies and clothing during the Sales Tax Holiday.

Based on research from the Economic Center, over 80 percent of the benefits from the tax holiday are enjoyed by consumers. Nevertheless, Ohio businesses will also benefit from the Sales Tax Holiday. The overall retail sales volume statewide will increase by an estimated 4.8 percent during August, giving local businesses a substantial boost. None of the states that share a border with Ohio have instituted their own sales tax holiday, which means that Ohio businesses will enjoy the inflow of residents from neighboring states over the weekend. 

Voting to implement a statewide Sales Tax Holiday is one way of showing our respect for the hardworking Ohioans who are investing in the future of their children, building a business and making our state a better place to live. I encourage you to mark your calendars for August 7-9 and take advantage of the opportunity.

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