GSB considers book-tax loophole

Steven Brittain

The Government of the Student Body Senate was encouraged Wednesday to promote a tax exemption for student textbooks. The developing project would save students money if approved at the state level.Andy Tofilon, GSB director of intergovernmental affairs, distributed to the senators information about the tax exemption. He has been working on this project since the Board of Regents voted to increase tuition in October.”We wanted to find a way to save the students money,” Tofilon said. “We tried to go through the Board of Regents, but we were denied. That’s when we began to look for things at a statewide level. We found a loophole in the state tax code.”Tofilon said the tax code states that any educational, non-profit or religious organization may have the tax exemption only if money will be going back to the institution itself.In order for the students to receive their money back for the sales-tax portion of their purchases, they would have to fill out a form or go online, and the state would send them their refund. The money paid to the bookstore in the form of sales tax would go back to the university.This means the tax exemption would apply only to the University Bookstore in the Memorial Union, because it is a direct part of the university, Tofilon said.”The Campus Bookstore can’t be a part of it, because they are privately owned,” he said. “However, we will be working with them in the future for state-wide tax-free books.”GSB Finance Director Steve Medanic said it’s important for student leaders to get the word out about the possible textbook exemption.”The exemption is already in the Iowa tax code,” he said. “It’s just a matter of us publicizing it to the students. If the average student is paying $400-$500 on textbooks, and you take 6 percent of that, that’s a good $20 to $30 a semester. It’s almost like a tuition cut.”The tax cut could be enacted as soon as July 1 if it receives enough support. However, Tofilon said the proposal’s main opposition is the state legislature.”We are looking forward to see how the students respond to this, and we hope that students would take the five minutes necessary to fill out the forms or to go online,” he said.