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Make good use of this weekend’s sales tax holiday

Rising costs have many families prioritizing and cutting back on regular expenses just so they can afford to get their children the items they need for heading back to school.

Indeed, in this kind of inflationary climate, every little bit helps. Some of that help, in the form of a tax break, is being offered to Ohio shoppers this weekend. Ohio shoppers may take advantage of the state’s sales tax holiday beginning at midnight Friday and ending at 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

It is a good chance for those doing back-to-school shopping to save a little money, which, as we all know, is more important than ever these days.

Experts say consumers are expected to match last year’s back-to-school record spending and overtake 2021 back-to-college spending, according to data from the National Retail Federation.

The federation predicts households will spend on average of $864 on back-to-school products this year. They spent an average of $841 per household last year and $789 in the pandemic year of 2020.

Back-to-college spending is expected to reach nearly $74 billion, up from $71 billion and the most in the survey’s history.

While these are hefty figures, unfortunately, they probably won’t represent as much bang for the bucks due largely to inflation.

The state’s annual sales tax holiday means consumers can save between 6.5 to 8 percent on sales tax on certain items. Those savings can be spent on more back-to-school clothing, shoes, supplies and other necessities.

Ohio retailers also benefit from the tax holiday because they could see the benefit of cross-border activity with folks from Indiana, Kentucky and Michigan taking advantage.

Ohio’s first sales tax holiday was in 2015. It was reauthorized every year through 2018, when it was made permanent. Locally, the sales tax rates are 6.75 percent in Trumbull and Ashtabula counties, 7.5 percent in Mahoning County and 7.25 percent in Columbiana County.

So, here’s what you need to know about this year’s tax holiday.

On clothing of less than $75 per item, and school supplies / instructional material of less than $20 per item, all Buckeye State retailers will be eliminating the sales tax. But there are exceptions, so it is important to pay attention.

Those exceptions include items purchased for use in a trade or business; clothing accessories or equipment; protective equipment; sewing equipment and supplies; sports or recreational equipment; belt buckles sold separately; costume masks sold separately; and patches or emblems sold separately.

The Ohio Department of Taxation has a complete list of frequently asked questions on its website, tax.ohio.gov, in the Help Center.

Be sure to understand the ins and outs of the sales tax holiday before you get a surprise at the register. But once you do, by all means, take advantage of this chance to keep a little more of your hard-earned money. Those helping kids get ready for the school year will have to do the shopping anyway; at least we can do it without the government taking its cut.

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