SG forced to rethink textbook legislation

While there may have been support for Student Government President Tyler Montell’s proposal for a bill eliminating sales tax on textbooks, there is one problem with his plan — it is already a law.

In the Sept. 2 issue of the Kernel, Montell said he had pre-filed a notion for a bill that would allow bookstores to sell textbooks without sales tax.

In 1978 Kentucky passed a statue stating that textbooks and related course materials purchased for use at a non-profit educational institution were exempt from sales tax. (KRS 139.480)

“Out of all the people we talked to, no one knew Kentucky already did this,” Montell said. “Even legislators said this was something they wanted to be a part of.”

The 1978 law allowed the UK-owned bookstore to sell textbooks without sales tax, but not privately owned bookstores like Kennedy Bookstore or Wildcat Textbooks.

Carol Behr, general manager of Kennedy, said this put private businesses at a disadvantage, so Joe Kennedy petitioned the Kentucky Department of Revenue to amend the statute.

“Students who shopped here were being penalized,” Behr said. “So in 1981, Mr. Kennedy filed the petition saying that it was unfair.”

The revision passed, Behr said, and now private and non-profit businesses in the state of Kentucky can sell required course materials without sales tax.

Kentucky is one of 18 states with some kind of tax exemption law, according to the National Association of College Stores.

Behr suggested SG follow up on the already-instated law by writing legislation about textbooks that come packaged with other items like workbooks or CDs. The textbook ends up costing more because it is part of a “custom package,” Behr said.

“They should pass legislation that says you can buy those separately,” she said. “Packages would be a very good angle to go for.”

Montell is already considering a new plan though. Textbook prices are still a priority, he said, and he wants to focus on making textbooks a write-off for income tax.

“The next step is looking at other ways to get legislation through about (textbooks),” he said. “By having books as a write-off on income tax, the real benefit would be in families of students paying for tuition.”

Even though his efforts on the first bill did not work out as planned, Montell said he is positive this will be a good year for getting legislation through.

“It was such a great idea that somebody already had it,” he said. “It’s a learning experience.”