Proposed bill would eliminate textbook taxes

A bill filed last week in the Florida House of Representatives proposes a tax exemption to Florida students for textbooks and other school supplies. The bill will affect all students of universities and community colleges in Florida. Students will receive 7 percent off of all textbooks and materials required by the courses they attend.

Representative Anitere Flores filed the bill last week. If passed, Bill 891 will take effect on July 1.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” said Bijal Chhadva, student body president. “Say, for example, students pay $400 a semester on books and supplies. There is a 7 percent sales tax, so students would save about $28 per semester. If you add this up for the entire college career, I think this would save them some good money.”

Chhadva’s estimations are close to a student’s average expenses. According to a study done by the National Association of College Stores, the average student paid $832 for textbooks during the 2004-2005 school year. Studies also show that expenses have stayed constant over the past 5 years.

Student Government is in full support of the bill and is making an effort to make sure it gets passed.

“We are writing a resolution to the senate to support this,” said Chhadva. “(Vice president) Andrew and I are going to Tallahassee this week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to lobby our legislators for USF-specific issues.”

Over the past five years, 16 states have tried to pass similar acts, according to . Georgia has introduced bills that would limit the costs of textbook prices. Bills proposed by Illinois, Michigan, Washington and New Jersey have tried to reduce or eliminate college textbook taxes. None of the attempts have been successful. Those opposed think that students won’t save much and that the state will lose a large amount of tax revenue.

Textbooks are now a $5-billion market in the United States, according to . According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the publishers retain approximately 65 percent of money spent on college textbooks.

New textbooks are the most expensive, so many students seek used books. Another alternative to pricey books are online bookstores, which may offer the cheapest books available. Some popular online stores include , a division of eBay, and . An NACS study shows that despite the deals, only 12 percent of students report buying their textbooks online.