Ohio's Sales Tax Holiday: What to know before hitting the stores Aug. 7-9
1. When does it begin?
The tax holiday is a one-time event, from 12:01 a.m. Friday, Aug. 7, through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 9, both in store and online. A new state law would have to be passed to extend the promotion beyond 2015.
2. What will be tax-free during that time?
Clothes priced at $75 or less, school supplies priced at $20 or less, and school instructional materials priced at $20 or less. Items bought for a business or a trade are not eligible for tax-free purchase.
If you find two pairs of pants, one costing $65, and the other costing $79, only the $65 pair would be tax-free. And no splitting up a pair of $150 shoes to get the deal, either.
3. If I find a great deal, can I buy as much as I want?
Yes, as long as individual clothing items are eligible, and each is priced at $75 or less. Same goes for school supplies or school instructional materials for $20 or less. There are no limits on the total purchase.
4. Is this only for Ohio families with schoolchildren?
No. Even though it is timed to coincide with back-to-school shopping, the Sales Tax Holiday is open to anyone who wants to stock up on eligible items.
Eligible items bought in store are tax-free to all consumers, including residents from neighboring states, but online purchases are tax-free only to Ohio residents.
5. So, what's tax-free that weekend?
The state defines clothing as "all human wearing apparel suitable for general use," including but 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."
Anything purchased for a trade or a business is not eligible for the tax exemption.
Other ineligible items include: clothing accessories or equipment, protective equipment, sewing equipment and supplies (even if used to make clothing), sports or recreational equipment, belt buckles sold separately, costume masks sold separately, and patches and emblems sold separately.
6. Why are things like diapers, costumes and wedding apparel considered back-to-school clothes?
The State of Ohio defines clothing, footwear, footwear, school supplies, and school instructional materials according to the national Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement.
States holding sales tax holidays are required to use the SSUTA definitions of what categories are eligible for their holiday, according to Lora Miller, director of governmental affairs and public relations at the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants.
7. What about school supplies?
School supplies are limited to: "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."
8. What about school instructional material? What on earth is that?
School instructional material includes only reference books, reference maps and globes, textbooks, and workbooks.
9. What about laptop computers, calculators and other electronics?
Only school supplies listed above and priced up to $20 each are eligible. That excludes pricey electronics.
10. What online orders will be eligible?
Items bought via mail, over the phone, via email or online have to be ordered -- and paid for -- between 12:01 a.m. Aug. 7 and 11:59 p.m. Aug. 9 to be eligible, even if they are delivered at a later date.
11. Can a retailer choose not to participate in the Sales Tax Holiday?
No, all retailers must comply with the state law.
12. What if I have more questions?
Check the Ohio Department of Taxation's website.