Chicago parents spend $886 per child on school supplies

Chicago parents spend $886 per child on school supplies

Chicago parents spend one-third more than the national average on school supplies. A 5% state sales tax holiday does little to help those struggling with back-to-school costs.

Back-to-school shoppers are getting a 5% sales tax break until Aug. 14 in Illinois, but the tax holiday does little to help those who most need it, according to a new report.

And parents in Chicago need help: They spend $886 per child on average, 34% more than the national average. A survey conducted by Deloitte found 58% of parents are concerned about inflation pushing up school supply prices.

Politicians estimate Illinois families will save $50 million from the tax holiday, but a report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy shows the temporary relief offers little real help.

Marco Guzman, who authored the report, noted short-term holidays are geared for wealthier families with flexible schedules.

“Really, when you dig deep into them, they are ineffective and poorly targeted,” Guzman said. “Wealthier taxpayers are able to take advantage of the same benefit that lower income people are.”

Middle- and lower-income households would benefit from year-round sales tax relief. It would especially help for items not typically bought in August, such as winter clothes.

The Deloitte survey also found half of all back-to-school shopping occurs by the end of July, before the Illinois tax holiday started.

Clothes costing more than $125 are excluded from the holiday. This creates a headache for local governments who must go through individual price information for a tax holiday only lasting 10 days.

Twenty states will hold sales tax holidays in 2022 worth a combined $1 billion. Many states, but not Illinois, extend the tax break to textbooks, which are often the most expensive back-to-school item. Computers, sports equipment and art supplies are also excluded.

It’s one component of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s temporary “family relief” plan, which will save the average family $556. That savings pales in comparison to the extra $2,165 the average family has been forced to give up for new taxes imposed by Pritzker.

There’s another potential tax hike before Pritzker’s term is up, but this time voters get a say. The Nov. 8 election will decide the fate of Amendment 1, misleadingly labeled a “workers’ rights amendment.” It would hike the average Illinoisan’s property taxes $2,100 over four years by forcing them to fund a wide range of new public union demands.

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