Students will be heading back to school in about a month and Ohio offers a sales tax holiday to help families and students shopping for school supplies and clothes. (DHI Media photo)
Students will be heading back to school in about a month and Ohio offers a sales tax holiday to help families and students shopping for school supplies and clothes. (DHI Media photo)
OHIO — Back-to-school shoppers in Ohio will again have the opportunity to shop free of sales tax this year. This is the third year the state has offered the sales tax holiday.

Beginning at midnight on Aug. 4 and lasting until 11:59 p.m. Aug. 6, Ohio shoppers will be able to purchase certain items without sales tax to help in the shopping for items for school.

The items that are exempt from sales tax include: clothing priced at $75 per item or less, school supplies priced at $20 per item or less and school instructional material priced at $20 per item or less.

“There is no limit on the amount of the total purchase,” the Ohio Department of Taxation website explains. “The qualification is determined item by item.”

If an item costs more, it does not qualify at all for the exemption. “If an item of clothing sells for more than $75, tax is due on the entire selling price,” the Ohio Department of Taxation explains.

“School supplies” include only the following items: 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.

“School instructional material” includes only the following items: reference books, reference maps and globes, textbooks, and workbooks.

Items used in a trade or business are not exempt under the sales tax holiday.

According to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics, total spending for school and college combined is projected to reach $83.6 billion, a more than 10 percent increase from last year’s $75.8 billion.

“Families are now in a state of mind where they feel a lot more confident about the economy,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “With stronger employment levels and a continued increase in wages, consumers are spending more and we are optimistic that they will continue to do so throughout the rest of the year. As students head back to the classroom, retailers are prepared to meet their needs whether it’s for pencils and paper, shirts and pants or laptops and tablets.”

Families with children in elementary through high school plan to spend an average $687.72 each, for a total of $29.5 billion, an 8 percent increase from last year’s $27.3 billion, according to the National Retail Federation’s survey.

Also according to the survey, back-to-school shoppers plan to spend $10.2 billion on clothing (purchased by 95 percent of respondents), $8.8 billion on electronics such as computers or calculators (60 percent), $5.6 billion on shoes (93 percent) and $4.9 billion on school supplies such as notebooks, folders, pencils, backpacks and lunchboxes (97 percent). Parents say they will spend an average of $238.89 on clothing, $204.33 on electronics, $130.38 on shoes and $114.12 on school supplies. While consumers plan to spend more across all categories, shoes and school supplies seeing the highest expected increase.

College students and their families plan to spend an average of $969.88, up from last year’s $888.71. Total spending is expected to be $54.1 billion, up from $48.5 billion last year. The increase in spending is driven, in part, to growing college enrollment. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, college enrollment has steadily increased over the last five years and is projected to reach nearly 21 million this fall.

The National Retail Federation’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics of 7,226 consumers asked about both back-to-school and back-to-college plans and was conducted June 30-July 5 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.