Shopping for back-to-school supplies is an expensive venture.
Every school has a list of required items, starting with the basics like pencils, paper, folders and binders. Then there are the classroom items like tissues, dry erase markers and disinfecting wipes. And some teachers require specialty items such as calculators. Add in a backpack and a lunchbox, and it’s easy to see how those expenses can quickly hit a parent right in the pocketbook.
Now, a Scottsdale lawmaker is proposing a bit of relief for parents.
Rep. Jay Lawrence wants to implement a two-week sales tax holiday for back to school supplies, which would have a $100 cap, Capitol Media Services reports. “With that $100 cap, the savings to an individual family in avoiding the state’s 5.6 percent sales tax would be $5.60.”
Lawrence estimated the program would cost the state roughly $5 million to $7 million.
Critics of the proposal note there isn’t a way to stop others from taking advantage of the tax break. And Julie Erfle, who has been working toward boosting funding for schools, notes if the schools were better funded, parents wouldn’t have to spend so much on supplies, Capitol Media Services reports, putting the responsibility back on the Legislature.
It’s an interesting question. On one hand, back-to-school shopping is expensive, and parents likely would appreciate the savings.
And then there is the matter of logistics.
Schools in Yuma County are already back in session, as are several other districts across the state. But the Phoenix Central School District, for example, doesn’t return to the classroom until Sept. 4. How does one determine when the two-week tax break window would be to best benefit all the students?
While there is an appeal to tax-free back-to-school shopping, Erfle has a point. If classrooms were better funded, the back-to-school shopping lists would be significantly smaller. That’s likely the better solution overall, allowing teachers to have purchasing power to ensure their classrooms are appropriately outfitted.