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Annual back-to-school tax holiday to be permanent

COLUMBUS-State Representative Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster), Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, recently announced the passage of Substitute Senate Bill 226, legislation sponsored by State Senator Kevin Bacon (R-Westerville). Sub. S.B. 226 creates an annual sales tax-exemption holiday over a three-day period in the month of August. The tax holiday applies to clothing, school supplies and instructional materials.

The General Assembly has passed bills approving one-time tax holidays in August each year since 2015. Sub. S.B. 226 makes that three-day period a permanent occurrence, and additionally authorizes educational service centers (ESCs) to levy a property tax in order to fund school safety, security and mental health services. This will occur through a county school financing district, which is a taxing unit designed to levy taxes for the benefit of ESC-member districts.

“It was important to shepherd this legislation through the Ways and Means Committee because it helps our families and actually increases State revenue through secondary purchasing,” Schaffer said. In his floor speech supporting the legislation, Schaffer said, “The state of Ohio experienced a $4.7 million increase in tax income. In the month of August, 2016, Ohio families also saved $2.4 million in taxes when they made their school supplies purchases.”

The tax holiday will begin every first Friday of August. The bill specifically applies to clothing of $75 or less per item, and excludes specific items such as trade uniforms and clothing articles used as protective equipment, as well as those that are required for sports. School supplies that are $20 or less per item are eligible, with specific guidelines listed within the bill. Consumers may purchase any number of items.

Ohio is one of 19 states in the U.S. to create a sales tax exemption period. No states bordering Ohio have passed sales tax holiday legislation.

With the House’s passage, Senate Bill 226 now heads back to the Ohio Senate for a concurrence vote.

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