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Tax holiday hits at a good time

Ohio will welcome back-to-school shoppers from 12:01 a.m. Friday through 11:59 p.m. Sunday with a tax holiday on most-used school supplies.

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.

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.

Clothing, meanwhile, includes, but is not limited to, shirts; blouses; sweaters; pants; shorts; skirts; dresses; uniforms (athletic and nonathletic); shoes and shoe laces; insoles for shoes; sneakers; sandals; boots; overshoes; slippers; steel-toed shoes; underwear; socks and stockings; hosiery; pantyhose; footlets; coats and jackets; rainwear; gloves and mittens for general use; hats and caps; ear muffs; belts and suspenders; neckties; scarves; aprons (household and shop); lab coats; athletic supporters; bathing suits and caps; beach capes and coats; costumes; baby receiving blankets; diapers, children and adult, including disposable diapers; rubber pants; garters and garter belts; girdles; formal wear; and wedding apparel.

The idea largely is aimed at back-to-school time. With many families facing a need for charity to offer 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 many school teachers who equip their classrooms out of their own pocket. According to the National Education Association, teachers in the United States will each spend about $459 out of their own pockets for school supplies without reimbursement. In Ohio, that number is $444, in West Virginia it is $333 and in Pennsylvania it is $420.

When it comes to government, every good deed has a cost, and the sales tax holiday is no exception. The Ohio Legislative Services Commission estimated the weekend tax break in 2018 cost Ohio about $15.2 million, while local governments took a hit of as much as $3.7 million.

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

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