Kansas bill proposed for sales tax exemption on textbooks bought at college bookstores

Textbooks ready to be sold in the K-State Campus Store could soon be exempt from sales tax if the state legislature votes for it.

Once a “broke college kid” himself, Nick Hoheisel, Wichita representative for the 97th Kansas House of Representatives District, is sponsoring a bill for the 2019 legislature aimed to cut students a break through a state sales tax exemption on required textbooks at public and private universities.

The current default sales tax rate in Kansas is 6.5 percent. With college textbooks being so expensive, Hoheisel said the tax for buying textbooks could pay for other needs students might have.

“One semester, I spent $65 in sales tax on textbooks alone,” Hoheisel said. “And $65 can go a long way on some groceries for a couple weeks or what not. I always told myself if I was in a position to address that issue and the rising cost of higher education, that I would try and do something about it.”

House Bill 2011 was referred to the House Taxation Committee for review on Jan. 14. The committee will gather and evaluate information relating to the bill. Then, the committee will report back to the chamber with what they find and will give opinions on if the bill should be voted on.

If the bill moves on to become part of the Kansas tax code, it would only apply to course-required textbooks purchased at university campus bookstores. Sales tax would still apply if bought from a different vendor.

Orian Brown, sophomore in management information systems, said he liked the idea.

“That would be really helpful, actually, because a $400 textbook would already be $450 or something like that,” Brown said. “That would be really nice to just take away that little extra chunk of change, because textbooks are already super expensive.”

Brown estimated he spent $400 to $500 on textbooks this semester.

Brown also said the need for online access codes and having to buy a textbook that was only available at the Kansas State University bookstore prevented him from finding better deals on his required textbooks.

“I had to buy a $200 book through the campus store, and that was what was a big chunk of it,” Brown said.

Hoheisel said he plans to build support for the bill by explaining the bill’s benefits for people his fellow representatives know personally, such as family members.

“Everybody knows somebody that’s in college, whether it’s a grandson or granddaughter, a niece or nephew, or a son or a daughter,” Hoheisel said of his fellow representatives. “This bill impacts everybody in some way.”