Ohio's sales tax holiday begins today: Here's what you should know

·8 min read

Aug. 5—Ohio's sales tax holiday on school supplies, instructional material and clothes arrived today at a time when inflation concerns are causing families to closely watch their spending.

This year's installment started at 12 a.m. Friday and continues through 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 7. Exempt from sales and use tax during the holiday are clothing priced at $75 or less, school supplies priced at $20 or less and school instructional materials priced at $20 or less, according to the Ohio Department of Taxation.

With rising inflation continuing to takes its toll, 38% of respondents said they are cutting back in other spending to cover the cost of items for the upcoming school year, according to an annual survey released this month by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. Officials said that makes the tax holiday even more important this year.

Consumers expect to spend record amounts on both K-12 and college supplies because of higher prices, according to the survey.

Families with children in elementary through high school plan to spend an average of $864 on school items, up from $849 in 2021, according to the survey. Total back-to-school spending is expected to reach a record $36.9 billion, up from $37.1 billion last year and an all-time high in the survey's history.

The survey also found college students and their families plan to spend an average of $1,199, which was in line with what they said they would spend last year. Total back-to-college spending is expected to reach a record $73.9 billion, up from $71 billion in 2021.

Shoppers are covering the cost of back-to-school and college this year by cutting back in other areas (38%), working overtime or taking on additional hours (18%), using buy now, pay later (17%), taking out additional credit cards (14%) and borrowing money or going into debt (12%).

Some shoppers were out before the tax holiday. Natalie Folino of Clearcreek Twp. shopped at the Walmart in Sugarcreek Twp. in Thursday with her three daughters, ages 9, 7 and 6, to pick up school supplies for the upcoming school year at Waynesville schools ahead of the tax holiday weekend.

"I guess if you plan to get your back to school shopping done during that time, that would be a really good savings," Folino said. "We ended up spending quite a bit today, so I'm sure that would have helped.

"Right now, I think things are definitely more expensive and an opportunity like that would be a big help, especially if you're shopping for multiple kids for back to school."

But Kate Mossop, of Beavercreek, who went shopping at Walmart last week with her 7-year-old daughter, said she avoids shopping the tax holiday weekend.

"Honestly, I feel like you don't really save that much and I don't really like having to reach over people and be in the crowds to have to save a couple of bucks," Mossop said. "For me, it's not worth the stress. I like to go early to have that peace of mind that that's already checked off my list."

Mossop said shopping before the tax holiday weekend also helps her more easily find items that might sell out as a result of larger crowds that the tax holiday may generate.

The annual sales tax holiday weekend started in 2015 and was made permanent in 2018 by the Ohio General Assembly

The Ohio Department of Taxation answers questions on its website, tax.ohio.gov, according to Gary Gudmundson, spokesman for the department.

"For instance ... there's this $75 limit on clothing," Gudmundsn said. "Let's say you find something that costs $80. Do I get $75 exempt from tax on that? No. It has to be $75 or less."

Gudmundson said products sold by internet, email, postal mail and phone also qualify.

Items used in a trade or business deal are not exempt under the sales tax holiday. Also not eligible are items like clothing accessories; patches and protective equipment; sewing or knitting materials; sports equipment; and belt buckles, costume masks, patches and emblems sold separately.

Lora Miller, Ohio Council of Retail Merchants' director of governmental affairs and public relations, said consumers benefit from the tax holiday weekend because "in this kind of (economic) environment ... every penny counts."

"Consumers are so price-sensitive, more so now than in past years," Miller said. "It makes them feel better to save money, especially when it comes to taxes."

It also will help Ohio businesses, which will put needed items that are not subject to the tax holiday up for sale, she said

Deals like that, along with the tax holiday on school supplies and clothing, draw shoppers from areas that don't have such a respite from taxes, including Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and West Virginia, Miller said. Pennsylvania doesn't have a sales tax holiday, but it also doesn't have a sales tax on clothing, she said.

The increase in commercial activity caused by the tax holiday helps offset losses from the temporary lack of taxes, Miller said.

"It's really a win across the board for consumers, retailers and the state of Ohio," she said.

Jamie Gleason of Kettering went shopping with her 9-year-old and 8-year-old daughters at the Sugarcreek Twp. Walmart on Thursday morning for mostly school supplies with some clothing purchased. She said she has not shopped during the tax holiday weekend and the possible crowds would keep her away this year.

"It's nice to have a little break with the cash, but it's a lot of shoppers in the store, so I kind of veer away from the busy hours," Gleason said. "I've worked on the tax (holiday) weekend and the amount of people that I dealt with ... is overwhelming, so I tend to stay away."

Roger Geiger, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, said the group has supported the tax holiday since its inception. He said it's a chance for people to support local businesses still trying to recover from a series of economic setbacks starting with the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We all know that families plan for the next school year, everybody's got to buy some school supplies, everybody likes to buy a new outfit for school and teachers are buying their school classroom supplies," Geiger said. "Our pitch is don't just think of the big box retail stores. Think about the small retailer that's in your community. They can also offer the same tax holiday."

The stores at The Mall at Fairfield Commons in Beavercreek benefit from the tax holiday, according to Leanne Rubosky. She said the tax holiday also benefits shoppers by helping to extend their back to school dollars.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, shoppers at The Mall at Fairfield Commons may stop by Center Court to receive a list of participating retailers that will be distributing free school supplies. Guests can also visit the Silly School Pictures photo booth and face painting and enter to win many back-to-school giveaways.

"Families who shop at the Center will have a vast array of stores to choose from ranging from clothing to back to school supplies and more," she said. "Guests can also take a break from shopping and dine at our many food eateries."

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Back to school coverage

This story kicks off a series of important reports about the return to school this year.

The topics our reports are digging into include: The latest on school safety issues, how schools are dealing with staff shortages, what districts are doing with COVID-19 relief funds and concerns about the mental health of students.

This coverage is part of our commitment to using our local reporting team to provide information the most important issues facing our region and what their status is locally.

School start dates

Aug. 10: Warren County Career Center, DECA.

Aug. 11: Miami Valley Career Tech Center.

Aug. 15: Beavercreek grades 1-12 last names A-L, North Dayton School of Discovery, Spring Valley Academy, Trotwood-Madison.

Aug. 16: Beavercreek grades 1-12 last names M-Z, Dayton Public Schools, Franklin, Greene County Career Center, Jefferson Township, Miamisburg, Springboro, Wayne Local.

Aug. 17: Alter HS freshmen, Brookville, Carlisle, Cedar Cliff, Centerville, Dayton Regional STEM School, Eaton, Emerson Academy, Greeneview, Incarnation, Lebanon, New Lebanon, Northmont grades 3-7 and 9, Oakwood, Pathway School of Discovery, Preble Shawnee, St. Peter, St. Charles, Tecumseh, Tri-County North, Twin Valley, Xenia grades 1-6.

Aug. 18: Alter HS all grades, Bellbrook-Sugarcreek, Chaminade Julienne, Kettering, National Trail, Northmont grades 8 and 10-12, Northridge, Vandalia-Butler, Xenia grades 7-8, 10, Yellow Springs.

Aug. 19: Northmont grade 2, Xenia grade 11-12.

Aug. 22: Huber Heights, Northmont grade 1.

Aug. 23: Covington, Newton, St. Luke.

Aug. 24: Bethel, Miami East, Milton-Union, Troy, West Carrollton.

Aug. 25: Tipp City, St. Helen, Troy Christian.

Aug. 29: Bradford, Greenon.

Sept. 6: Fairborn, Mad River, Piqua, Valley View.