Proposal would add laptops, high-end items to back-to-school tax-free holiday

Parents have saved thousands of dollars shopping during the back-to-school tax-free weekend, but a proposed Ohio bill could increase their savings in future years.

Ohio’s back-to-school tax-free weekend begins at 12:01 a.m. Friday and runs through Sunday at 11:59 p.m. During the weekend event, all clothing and shoes that cost less than $75 and school instruction materials and supplies that cost less than $20 are exempt of taxes.

A shopper in Montgomery County, where the sales tax is 7.5 percent, will save $7.50 per $100 of qualifying tax-free items. If Montgomery County families spend the National Retail Federation’s expected average of $700 on qualifying back-to-school needs, they could save $52.50.

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“This is a sales tax cut for middle class families. We know that if you have two kids going to school, you’re going to spend hundreds of dollars every year on school clothing and supplies. And over the 12-year period, or maybe 16-year period, that your kids are going to school, that’s thousands of dollars,” said state Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg. “This sales tax cut will result in hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, for our citizens,”

The retailers will also provide other incentives to get shoppers in the doors, said Alex Boehnke, spokesman for the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants.

“With the savings provided by the sales tax holiday weekend, working families hard-earned dollars will go further, giving them them greater purchasing power and greater piece of mind,” Boehnke said.

The holiday, which was started five years ago, is a win for the retail industry, which employs tens of thousands in the Dayton area, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retail establishments are expected to see increased sales, Antani said.

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Antani wants to boost the savings for area families, he said. In March, he introduced a bill to increase the cost to $100 for both clothing and school supplies to be eligible for tax-free weekend.

“That’s critical for our high school students who need graphing calculators in order for geometry class or an algebra or calculus,” Antani said. “The bill also goes a step further and … it will include laptops and tablets. We know that many students are going to need laptops and tablets for back to school.”

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Paulette Larson was shopping with her three grandchildren Wednesday, an outing the four take every year, she said. Larson said if more items qualified, she would be more likely to buy the higher dollar items during back-to-school shopping instead of waiting until other bigger sales.

“If I were going to be home this weekend we would probably come this weekend because of the savings,” Larson said. “If they would expand it to other things that would be great…We wouldn’t buy it at Christmas, we would get it at tax-free time, save the tax.”

Antani’s bill has had one of three required hearings, but is waiting on a new Ways and Means committee chairman to proceed, he said.

“We believe that once we get a chairman, we believe we’ll be able to progress that bill,” Antani said.

The sales tax holiday first became permanent last year after three years of trials.

“Now that the law is permanent, we hope to see increased usage by residents,” Antani said. “Citizens weren’t sure in the past of whether there would be a sales tax holiday. We now know, rest assured, citizens can know that for every year to come there will be a sales tax holiday on the first weekend in August.”


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Sales tax rates by county

Butler: 6.5%

Greene: 6.75%

Warren: 7%

Miami: 7%

Hamilton: 7%

Clark: 7.25%

Champaign: 7.25%

Mongtomery: 7.5%

Ohio Sales Tax Holiday

When: 12 a.m. Friday through 11:59 p.m. Sunday

Where: All Ohio stores and online

What: Clothing priced at $75 or less, school supplies priced at $20 or less and school instructional material priced at $20 or less will be exempt from sales and use taxes.

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