States Offering Tax Breaks For School Supplies As Inflation Soars

By Erika Hanson | Published

school supplies

Parents have long complained about having to spend an arm and a leg on school supplies. On top of that, schools seem to perpetually ask for more items, and often they are distinct, pricier materials. Add in supply chain woes and soaring inflation – and back-to-school costs are higher than ever. To alleviate the burden on families’ budgets, some states, like Illinois, are offering tax breaks this year to keep the overall costs down.

According to a report from The Associated Press, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker championed an inflation relief plan that will alleviate the growing costs of school supplies that have skyrocketed, thanks to inflation. Beginning today, August 5th, state sales tax on all school items, including clothing, will be lowered from 6.25% to 1.25% for the next 10 days. Under this plan, educators will also be given a break with increased tax credits. Understanding these growing needs, other states have followed suit. 

In Illinois, this school supply tax break offering was made possible under a plan laid out by Democrats who currently control the state’s General Assembly. The act set aside a state budget of $1.83 billion to offer the school supplies tax break, a year-long sales tax break on groceries, a fuel tax break, and also rebates for property and income taxes. On top of that, it offers state teachers – who typically spend upwards of $1,000 out of their own pockets to purchase classroom supplies – a tax credit of $250 this year, and $500 in 2023.

While some states offer reimbursements for teachers who pay for their own classroom school supplies, 9 out of 10 teachers will never see that money refunded. But as inflation makes that cost farther unmanageable, and as more educators are leaving the profession behind, more states are adhering to teachers’ cries for more aid. Recently in Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp allocated state COVID relief funds to a new initiative to give educators and other various school staff $125 stipends to use for classroom materials. 

Additionally, plenty of other states take advantage of sales tax holidays for back-to-school spending on school supplies. 16 states this year are offering sales tax holidays that allow families to save on the costs of returning to the classroom. Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia all have set dates for this, which can be found within this report from CNBC, here

But even where states are offering tax breaks to make the expenditure less foreboding, in actuality, families should still expect to shell out plenty of dough for school supply costs. For example, the 5% tax break currently in effect in Illinois does not account for local sales tax, which still has to be taken into factor. And while all school supply costs have risen this year, families are expected to spend the highest amounts on footwear, clothing, and electronics. 

school supplies

This school year, families are expected to spend more than ever on school supplies. The National Retail Federation recently announced that the average family is slated to spend an average of $864 per child in total. While these tax break offerings won’t save hundreds and hundreds for most parents, every little penny now counts.