By Joseph Pratt
August is officially here and school shopping is in full swing, as parents explore department stores, strip malls and other shops to get their children clothed and prepared for school. An opportunity to make this year’s shopping more affordable will soon be available for those who shop during Ohio’s new sales tax holiday, Aug. 7-9.
The tax holiday is a one-time event, thanks to Senate Bill 243, but many lawmakers hope to make it a reoccurring tradition.
“A sales tax holiday will benefit Ohio families, who are already strained during the back-to-school shopping season,” Ohio Senator Larry Obhof said. “This will help parents afford school supplies and other necessities.”
Many local businesses are preparing for the holiday, after hearing expressed interest from shoppers of surrounding states expressing interest in shopping in Ohio. Bill Mason, manager of the New Boston Walmart, claimed that he has never experienced anything like the upcoming holiday before, so he is planning ahead the best he can.
“We have overstaffed the registers, that is for sure,” Mason said. “We have every register open. We also have teams of people working overnight on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, just to get us back into business. On top of that, we have people assigned to various aisles to assist customers and make sure everything is going smoothly.”
Mason said that he also has many people prepared to devote their time to stocking specific clothing items such as jeans, underwear and socks.
“We don’t know what to expect, but I’ve heard a lot of people are looking forward to it,” Mason said. “Not knowing what to expect. We are sort of treating it like a Black Friday event.”
Mason said that his staff is prepared for the event, no matter the outcome, and he believes it will be a great benefit for Ohio businesses and for the many customers that rely on affordable prices.
“I think it is honestly going to be great,” Mason said. “I believe it is the first time we’ve had in Ohio, as far as my knowledge goes.”
During the holiday, the following items are exempt from sales and use tax: clothing priced at $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. Price restrictions on items are solely for individual items. The qualification of the exemption is determined item by item and there are no restrictions on final prices.
The tax holiday does acknowledge retailer coupons and loyalty cards. The final price charged by the store is what is looked at for qualification of the sales tax.
However, if a retailer accepts a coupon that entitles the retailer to third-party reimbursement, such as a manufacturer’s coupon, the discount provided by the coupon does not reduce the item’s sales price for purposes of determining whether the item is eligible for the exemption. This same principal is used on rebated items.
Qualifying items placed on or picked up from layaway during the sales tax holiday are exempt from sales tax.
The clothing items vary and include many options, not just shoes and general clothing. Some of the more obscure things mentioned on the list that might not be thought of include athletic supporters, lab coats, bathing suits and caps, costumes, diapers, rubber pants, garter belts, formal wear and wedding apparel.
The only items not included in the sales tax holiday include accessories, items used in a trade or business, protective wear, sewing materials, and very few limited items. An entire list can be found online at the Ohio.gov website.
All vendors are required to abide by the rules laid out in the bill, as it is law. No establishment may choose to not participate in the tax free holiday. According to the National Retail Federation, the average family with children in grades K-12 will spend $669.28 on apparel, shoes, supplies and electronics.
The tax holiday could be saving the average family nearly $50.
Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-353-3101, ext. 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.