9 FAQs about Ohio's 2016 sales tax holiday

Don't Waste Your Money
Posted at 6:14 PM, Aug 04, 2015
and last updated 2016-08-05 19:44:32-04

CINCINNATI -- Ohio's second annual tax holiday happens this weekend, starting at 12:01 a.m. Friday morning (Aug. 5) and running through Sunday evening.

We're on your side with nine things you need to know on what to buy and some downsides of this year's tax holiday.  You can watch this story on 9 On Your Side on Thursday, Aug. 4 at 6 PM.

1. It will be crowded. Not Black Friday levels, but crowded.

Cincinnati area Target, Walmart, and Kohl's stores are stocking up this week with extra school items. They also plan on bringing in extra employees this weekend, just like during Thanksgiving week.

Walmart is expecting a flood of shoppers for the sales tax holiday, but says you don't need to worry about Black Friday-style lines.

One place you should expect extra traffic is at the outlet malls in Monroe and Jeffersonville.

2. Shop Friday for the bulk of your school shopping.

Shopper Erica Lee knows that the best brand name merchandise sells fast, so she suggests going Friday.

"I think it's great," she said. "I'm from Missouri, and they've been doing that for years. It helps with school supplies, the shoes, the clothes, everything."

Carla Earlywine is planning to hit the stores Friday morning. Good idea, as popular Disney and licensed merchandise is expected to be gone soon. (See No. 7 below)

3. The savings start at midnight.

This Friday, Saturday, and Sunday -- Aug 5, 6 and 7 -- you can shop tax free for many school items.  

At Walmart, the sale starts at 12:01 a.m. for stores open 24 hours.

At many other stores, the sale starts at 8 or 9 a.m.

4. Know what qualifies for the tax break.

While it is a great time to buy clothing, not everything gets a tax break.

Colerain Township Walmart store manager Brad Terry says most of their back-to-school section, including backpacks, will be tax-free.

"These are $9.88 opening price points," he explained. "We have Frozen, Batman, Cinderella for back to school, and they are tax-free as well."

So what qualifies for a tax break?

  • Clothing items priced $75 or less.
  • School supplies $20 or less.

Here's the best part: There is no limit on how many $20 items you can buy. So you can walk up to the cashier with $200 or more of supplies, and you won't get charged sales tax, as long as each item costs $20 or less.

"There's no total basket item," Terry said. 

So if you spend $100 on merchandise, you will save between $6.50 and $8 in sales tax, depending on which county you live in.

5. Sorry, no computers or tablets.

Unfortunately, just like last year, Ohio lawmakers were conservative in what qualifies and decided to keep it simple.

That means more expensive things like laptops are not included, unlike Florida, where computers up to $750 are eligible for the tax break.

6. Know what does not qualify for a tax break.

Before you end up disappointed, you should know what is not eligible for a tax break.

  • Computers
  • iPads
  • Phones costing more than $20
  • Printers
  • Expensive gym shoes costing more than $75 (which includes most current-year Nike shoes).

So don't shop for a laptop this weekend, unless you like dealing with big crowds. You may want to wait until next week, when the crowds go home.

7. Get there early for licensed merchandise.

Terry suggests if you want popular licensed merchandise, such as Disney's Frozen, Star Wars or Minions items, shop Friday morning, or they may be gone.

Minions lunch boxes and folders are especially popular right now, even before the tax holiday started.

8. Kentucky and Indiana shoppers are welcome, too.

Kentucky and Indiana have no tax holiday, but residents are welcome to shop tax-free in Ohio this weekend.

9. You don't have to have school kids to enjoy the deals.

You can buy grown-up clothing or even baby clothing tax-free this weekend.

The only rule is it has to cost $75 or less per item. That means no wedding gowns, unless you are really, really cheap.

As always, don't waste your money.


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