Ohio’s ‘tax-free holiday’ set for Aug. 7-9

COLUMBUS — Seventy percent of Ohio consumers plan their back-to-school shopping around store sales, according to the Ohio Credit Union League’s 2015 Consumer Survey.

State legislators passed S.B. 243, creating a one-time sales tax holiday in 2015. The holiday starts Aug. 7 at 12:01 a.m. and ends Aug. 9 at 11:59 p.m.

The Federation of Tax Administrators shows 16 states in the U.S. are scheduled to participate in a tax-free holiday in 2015. Ohio will offer a tax break on items such as school supplies, clothing, and school instructional materials. There are varying price caps placed on individual items during tax-free shopping days including $20 or less for school supplies and instructional materials, and $75 or less on clothing.

The average family with children in grades K-12 spent approximately $669 on apparel, shoes, supplies, and electronics in 2014, according to the National Retail Federation. Tax-free holidays are a great way to reduce these expenses. Here are some additional tips and resources to help you save on back-to-school supplies.

• Hold off on buying trendy gear. Kids may love a certain lunch box or graphic folder they find in July, but once they start school and see their friends are all using another kind, they’ll beg you to upgrade them. This results in wasted cash. Purchase mostly generic supplies and buy one or two trendier items later in the year.

• Start early and buy basics in bulk. Certain items are a must each year. You already know you’ll need pencils, pens, paper and notebooks. When you see a bargain, stock up on basic supplies. Then set up a supply shelf for the kids that can be used all year round.

• Shop at home first. Before venturing out to the store, take inventory of what supplies you already have at home. Let the kids get involved in the process and have them check around the house for glue, pencils, paper and other necessities.

• Take advantage of tax-free holidays. Visit www.tax.ohio.gov/sales_and_use/SalesTaxHoliday.aspx to learn what items are tax free.

• Consult a credit union. Many of these not-for-profit, member-driven financial institutions offer small personal loans as low as $500 to $1,000. Check with them for an affordable loan for a new computer, grade school tuition, or other bigger school purchases you may have.

To learn more about credit unions in your community and how they help people afford life, visit www.aSmarterChoice.org.