Tax holiday helps with school buys

Ohio has again welcomed back-to-school shoppers with a tax holiday on most school supplies and some clothing. Savings started Friday and continue through 11:59 p.m. Sunday

State and local sales and use taxes will be waived on clothing of $75 per item or less, school supplies priced at $20 per item or less and school instructional materials priced at $20 per item or less.

There is no limit on the number of items that can be purchased, but merchandise bought for use in a trade or business is not eligible for the sales tax holiday.

Just for clarity, the Ohio Department of Taxation defines “school supplies” as binders; book bags; calculators; cellophane tape; blackboard chalk; compasses; composition books; crayons; erasers; folders (expandable, pocket, plastic and manila); glue, paste and paste sticks; highlighters; index cards; index card boxes; legal pads; lunch boxes; markers; notebooks; paper; loose leaf ruled notebook paper, copy paper, graph paper, tracing paper, manila paper, colored paper, poster board and construction paper; pencil boxes and other school supply boxes; pencil sharpeners; pencils; pens; protractors; rulers; scissors; and writing tablets. In other words, school supplies.

The idea largely is aimed at back-to-school time. With a growing number of families facing a need for help with obtaining the most-needed supplies for their children, it makes sense to offer some relief to those who can pay but whose budgets will be strained at this time of year. It also should give a little break to school teachers who supply their classrooms out of their own pockets.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly 94 percent of Ohio school teachers spend an average of $454 on their classrooms, unreimbursed.

When it comes to government, every good deed has a cost, and the sales tax holiday is no exception. According to The Associated Press, the weekend tax break will reduce state revenue by as much as $16.9 million by 2020.

Still, a bit of out-of-pocket relief should help retailers and ease a little August wallet pain for residents of the Buckeye State.