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Back to School sales tax holiday okayed by Senate

Back to School sales tax holiday okayed by Senate

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- The Ohio Senate has okayed the creation of a sales tax holiday on back to school sales in August. Supporters say it will be a boost to the economy, but opponents argue it won't do anything to boost sales.

"It creates an almost Black Friday-like excitement. It's a good excuse for retailers to go out an advertise the holiday and even give bigger breaks and sales on top of that," said Sen. Kevin Bacon, the Columbus Republican who is behind the bill.

The sales tax would be eliminated during the first full weekend of August on school supplies costing less than $20, clothing items less than $100, and some electronics less than $750.

The average family spent $688 on back to school items in 2012, according to the National Retail Federation.

"We estimate a total tax savings breaks of about $78 million to Ohioans. The average household will save about $38," Bacon said.

Not everyone was on board with the idea. Sen. Michael Skindell, a Lakewood Democrat, cited a report from The Tax Foundation that found the sales tax holiday is nothing more than a political gimmick.

"Sales tax holidays - politically expedient, but poor tax policy," he said.

Skindell also blasted Senate Republicans for offering up a holiday on a tax they recently voted to raise. He also raised concerns about some families racking up credit card debt to take advantage of the sales tax holiday only to find themselves paying much more thanks to high credit card interest rates.

Cincinnati Republican Sen. Bill Seitz said that while agreed with many of Skindell's points, one thing that really helped sway his vote in favor was an ad by Macy's passed around before the vote. It was from one of 18 states that has the back to school sales tax holiday and touted the event.

"If the retailers think and are willing to put their money behind ads saying 'come to our store this is good for business' they must think it's good for business," he said.

The measure passed with a 30-2 vote. It now heads to the Ohio House.

 

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