Sales tax holiday coming again in August

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 

For Ohioans who liked shopping for clothes and school supplies during a three-day sales tax holiday last August, looks like the temporary tax break will return this summer.

The Ohio House voted 94-1 to reinstate the sales tax exemption for the first Friday-Sunday period in August, when parents and students are preparing to return to school. The bill is headed to Gov. John Kasich, who is expected to sign it.

It “will help families stretch their dollar a little further as they purchase the materials to prepare their children for success in the classroom," said Sen. Kevin Bacon, R-Minerva Park, the bill sponsor. “The opportunity to save money on essential clothing and school items will reduce the financial strain on families and will boost sales for local retailers.”

>> TAKE THE QUIZ: Do you know which items are tax-free during a sales-tax holiday?

In a study on behalf of the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants, which supports the holiday, the University of Cincinnati Economics Center estimates that the state received a net gain of $4.7 million in tax revenue over the three-day period last year.

The study attributed the increased sales tax collections to two factors: that people shopping during the holiday also purchased more goods and services that were not tax exempt, and that counties along the state line drew people from neighboring states.

Some groups, such as the Tax Foundation and the Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions, oppose sales tax holidays, calling them gimmicks that largely just shift spending and make it harder to embrace comprehensive tax reform.

Rep. Jim Butler, R-Oakwood, was the lone member voting in opposition.

“While it’s good for retailers … the overall impact on this is people are spending more because of this artificial period,” he said. “They’re buying things that very likely are not made anywhere in this country, let alone the state. That means wealth is going out of our state.”

In other legislative business:

  • The Senate approved $684 million in new spending authority for highway construction, Ohio Turnpike revenue bonds and public transportation. The bill was crafted more than a week ago after the state Controlling Board, a spending oversight panel, declined to approve such a large request.

    The Ohio Department of Transportation said the state is getting another $222 million from the passage of the first transportation surface funding bill in a decade. The department also wants authority to spend $450 million in Turnpike bonds, part of Gov. John Kasich’s plan to issue $1.5 billion in bonds backed by future Turnpike revenue.

    The bill now goes to the House.
  • The Senate als unanimously approved a bill allowing active-duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces to carry a concealed handgun without a license if he or she has a valid military identification and a certificate indicating successful small arms training. It now goes to the House.