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Tax Exemption For Textbooks Could Help Save Ohio College Students Money


Buying textbooks can cost college students hundreds and even thousands of dollars every semester. Some state lawmakers see this as a burden beyond already high out-of-pocket expenses. But now there’s a plan to try to lighten the load.

An Ohio House committee has opened debate on a HB 337, which would exempt college textbooks from the sales tax.

Republican Rep. Mike Duffey, the bill’s sponsor, says this can just be one step in the effort to make college more affordable.

“I think it’s just hard with a straight face to say we’re doing everything we can for college students and still tax them on textbooks," Duffey says. 

A fiscal analysis in 2015 found that the tax on textbooks generates about $30 million in revenue.

Acknowledging the possible fiscal impact, Duffey says one idea is to trigger the exemption once the budget reaches a certain threshold.

An Ohio student pays about $30 in state taxes for every $500 spent on books. A report this year from the non-profit Philanthropy Ohio found that the state ranks the fifth worst in the country for college affordability.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.