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Bill Would Give Tax Break On School Supplies

DENVER (CBS4) - A tax break may soon come to parents who buy school supplies. The idea is moving through the state Capitol right now.

It not only applies to things like backpacks, folders and pencils, but also clothes, shoes, computers and sports equipment. It's one step closer to becoming law after receiving initial approval in the House on Monday.

Budgeting for back-to-school supplies can break the bank for many families. Monica Rosenbluth says she'll spend more than $140 on her kindergartner and second grader this year, and that doesn't include clothing.

Add clothing to the mix and it's estimated the average family spends between $500 and $600 a year to send their children to school.

"We try hard at our elementary school to kick in a little extra to help those families out, but, wow, it's costly," Rosenbluth said.

Now the state may kick in as well.

"So we're looking at a good tax policy that says, 'How do we fix this situation? How do we make it fair for everyone,' " said Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver.

Pabon is sponsoring the bill that would waive the state sales tax on school supplies.

"To give our working families a little bit of a break," he said.

The bill, which has bipartisan support, is expected to cost the state $4.5 million in lost sales tax. But it would only kick in when income tax receipts rise to make up the lost revenue.

Pabon argues it will not only help families' bottom line, but the state's as well.

"Studies show that when you give this type of exemption you actually see an increase in sales across the board," Pabon said. "So it benefits the consumers, it benefits the businesses, and it benefits Colorado."

Rosenbluth says the small break will make a big difference.

"Let's give the parents a break for a few days and make it a little more affordable for us to buy some of this stuff," she said.

The exemption would only be offered for three days in August. It would apply to typical school supplies costing up to $50, clothing up to $100, and computers up to $1,000. Those who aren't students or don't have children who are students still get the break.

Sixteen other states already offer a back-to-school tax holiday.

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