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Take advantage of tax holiday

Ohio and West Virginia are preparing to welcome back-to-school shoppers with sales tax holidays on most-used school supplies.

In the Buckeye State, the holiday will run from midnight Friday through 11:59 p.m. Aug. 7. In the Mountain State, meanwhile, the holiday will run from midnight Friday through 11:59 p.m. Aug. 8.

The programs differ a little between the states — Ohio will not charge sales tax for an item of clothing priced at $75 or less; a school supply priced at $20 or less; or an item of school instruction material priced at $20 or less. In West Virginia, the holiday will apply to certain clothing with a purchase price of $125 or less; certain school supplies with a purchase price of $50 or less; certain school instruction material with a purchase price of $20 or less; certain laptop and tablet computers with a purchase price of $500 or less; and certain sports equipment with a purchase price of $150 or less.

Merchandise bought for use in a trade or business is not eligible for the sales tax holiday.

Just for clarity, both states have a similar definition of school supplies, including 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.

It’s the same with clothing, which 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 Adoptaclassroom.org, teachers at public, private and charter schools spent an average of $750 out-of-pocket for classroom supplies last year.

The annual survey showed that 30 percent of teachers spent $1,000 or more.

Pennsylvania does not have a tax holiday scheduled for this year, but it’s worth noting that the commonwealth does not charge tax on clothing items.

Sales tax holidays offer a bit of out-of-pocket relief that should help retailers and ease a little August wallet pain for residents across the Tri-State Area.

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