Supplies like highlighters, pens, pencils and notebooks not included in the tax-free weekend. Oklahoma lawmakers are trying to change that.
Some parents KFOR spoke with said they’re looking to save money anywhere they can when it comes to back-to-school supplies.
“We went to dollar tree, and I was about to get a bookbag, but it was like $12 or $14,” said Chloe Thomas, Luz Thomas’s daughter.
Luz Thomas and her daughter are getting ready for the upcoming school year, but supplies remain at a high cost.
“I would have thought that that would be a part of the tax free, but I guess it’s not, and that’s like really disappointing because you would think with all of the school clothes and everything like that, it’s on a discount, but not the supplies. So, I am just trying to figure it out basically,” Luz Thomas, Oklahoma parent.
Thomas said she’s bummed to hear everything she needs to get her daughter ready for the school year is not included in the tax-free weekend.
“As far as the schools they will give you a list of supplies that you need, but they’re not offering the help to get those supplies… I was going to get clothes and supplies but the supplies, I am not really sure what I am going to do,” said Thomas.
Former educators and now lawmakers, Rep. Jacob Rosecrants and Senator Blake “Cowboy” Stephens are working on HB 1039, which would add school supplies to the list of tax-free items.
Right now, the state sales tax of 4.5%, as well as county and municipal taxes are waived for clothing and footwear items priced under $100.
The proposed bill would lower that to $75.
“Even if we just do a balancing act in lowering and that is what we are suggesting in this bill is lowering the cap on the apparel and the shoes and reduce it from $100 to $75… We can discuss this and come to the table and work on this so that we can tweak it where it’s really not increasing the revenue that is affected, the fiscal impact,” said Senator Blake “Cowboy” Stephens.
The bill was introduced last session but didn’t make it.
Lawmakers say organizations like the Oklahoma Municipal League may have been the roadblock.
“I am going to meet with the Oklahoma Municipal League and be like ‘hey is there any compromise we can make here because there are people that would like to see this,’” said Rep. Jacob Rosecrants.
Mike Fina, the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Municipal League told KFOR, “Oklahoma is the only state in the nation where municipalities are funded solely through sales tax dollars. OML has a long-standing policy of opposing any legislation that will preempt a municipalities ability to collect sales tax.”
“I also don’t want to harm our municipalities… I’m thinking, this is a nice little middle ground because then teachers can go, and parents can go and get these supplies. And it’s not free, we’re just talking about tax free and we’re just talking about one weekend,” said Rosecrants.
According to a study by savings.com, this year, parents expect to pay around $600 per student for back-to-school needs like supplies, clothing, shoes, backpacks and services like haircuts for the new school year.
“As far as the supplies, I think it should be a part of the tax free. It should be because everything is rising up and I think it should be a part of it,” said Thomas.
The lawmakers are continuing to push for the bill and plan on re-introducing it this upcoming session.
Tax-free weekend will be from Friday, August 4 to Sunday, August 6.