New tax holiday law gives Illinois families, teachers a break when they go back to school

By Elyse Kelly

The Center Square contributor

SPRINGFIELD – For teachers and parents alike, buying school necessities can get expensive. As part of the Illinois state budget that begins July 1, parents, students and teachers will get 10 days to purchase school supplies while paying less in sales taxes. The state’s sales tax is from 6.25% to 1.25% on clothes and school supplies.

Jason Leahy, executive director of the Illinois Principals Association, said the tax holiday will hopefully help out parents as they get their kids ready for another school year.

“I’ve got a family of five myself, and when we look at the start of the school year we’ve got plenty of things we’ve got to purchase to get ready to go, and so I would say it will definitely be a benefit,” Leahy told The Center Square.

The tax holiday will take place Aug. 5-15.

Research shows teachers will often spend hundreds of dollars out of their own pockets on classroom supplies to facilitate the type of instruction they want to provide.

“It’s been a long time since I was in the classroom teaching, but it was something that I did,” Leahy said. “Because you were trying to protect your supply budget or just knowing there weren’t enough dollars there to do the kinds of things you wanted to do to get the type of learning and impact with your kids, you would buy supplies that you need to get the job done.”

One reason why school is still expensive for families is districts charging fees to keep up with expenses, Leahy said.

Leahy said he hopes to see expenses for parents and teachers come down as the state implements evidence-based funding.

Tax holidays like this are not uncommon at both the federal and state levels, Leahy said.

“We’ve got an opportunity to provide a little relief this year, where the state’s finances are healthy or healthier than they have been in the last decade,” he said.

Illinois, like other states, received billions in dollars from federal taxpayers over the past two years in COVID-19 relief.

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