By Randy Gardner
Posted August 3rd 2018
(PHOTO: OHIO SENATOR KEVIN BACON, R-D-3)
The back-to-school sales tax holiday returns this weekend — and this time, it’s here to stay.
Ohio had offered late summer sales tax holidays in 2015, 2016 and 2017, with each event authorized by a separate bill.
Gov. John Kasich signed Senate Bill 226, which exempts clothes and school supplies from sales and use taxes during the first weekend of each August. The bill ensures that the tax holiday will return in later years without the necessity of new legislation.
SB 226 says that on the first Friday, Saturday and Sunday of August:
• There will be no sales tax on items of clothing costing up to $75 apiece.
• There will be no sales tax on textbooks and other necessary school supplies, up to a cost of $20 for each item.
The limits apply per item, so buyers can obtain as many tax-free items as they wish.
The tax exemption applies whether the consumer is buying an item from a location inside Ohio or buying something from outside of the state using mail order or the Internet.
Although the measure is aimed at helping families getting children ready for school, the tax break applies to purchases for everyone.
State Sen. Kevin Bacon, R-Westerville, authored the measure.
“A little bit of financial relief for parents as they prepare their kids for the new school year has proven to be both effective and appreciated by Ohio families,” Bacon said. “The opportunity to save on essential clothing and school items reduces some of the strain on consumers and boosts sales for local businesses.”
Ohio was one of 17 states that had a sale tax holiday last year, according to Bacon.
State Sen. Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, co-sponsored the bill.
Gardner said the measure enjoyed strong bipartisan support. It passed in the Senate 32-1 on March 21. The House approved it 93-3 the same day.
“Statistics show the sales tax holiday actually increased sales tax revenue, even though it has saved consumers money,” Gardner said.
That’s because the holiday generated a lot of traffic and sales, he said.
Trying a sales tax holiday for three years gave lawmakers a chance to see if making it permanent was a good idea, Gardner said.
It made sense to allow people to plan for the tax break, said state Rep. Steve Arndt, R-Port Clinton.
“Let’s just make it permanent so people know they can count on it being here,” he said.