Sales Tax Exemption for Textbooks Proposed in Ohio
- Aug 27, 2015 | Gail Cole
College textbooks, like the education they help provide, are expensive. According to the College Board, undergraduate students spent approximately $1,225 on books and supplies during the last school year. To help reduce college costs, two Ohio lawmakers are introducing legislation that would exempt college textbooks from Ohio state sales tax. Applicable local sales taxes would still apply.
The man behind the bill is Representative Michael Stinziano (D), who represents a district with seven colleges and universities; he was inspired to create a sales tax exemption for textbooks when a student asked him about textbook exemptions in other states. States that currently provide sales and use tax exemptions for course textbooks sold to enrolled college/university students include the following:
- Florida (a temporary sales and use tax exemption between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016)
- Nevada (textbooks sold within the Nevada System of Higher Education)
- New Jersey
- New Mexico (only when sold at bookstores located on higher education campuses)
- New York
Stinziano is joined by Republican Mike Duffy, Chairman of the House Finance Education Subcommittee, who likened a tax on textbooks to a tax on education: “… [N]obody would ever suggest that tuition should be taxed, and books, to me, are part and parcel of tuition. You don’t really have a choice” (The Columbus Dispatch)
This bill is only one of the ways Ohio lawmakers are addressing the rising costs of higher education. Tuition at Ohio University is frozen for the next two years under the new state budget, and universities and colleges have been asked to come up with a way to reduce student costs (overall) by 5%. Reps. Stinziano and Duffy are also interested in pursuing the rising costs of textbooks on multiple levels, such as looking at “how many publishers are involved, what kind of conflicts of interest may exist between professors at different universities or assigning textbooks they wrote themselves to their own students.” Shame on them.
While textbook exemptions make life a bit easier for students, they add to the challenge of sales tax compliance for sellers. Most exemptions only apply to course materials for enrolled students and must be thoroughly documented.
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