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BUYING BOOKS: Mark Rennie, of Victorville, selects a textbook from the bookstore at Victor Valley College on Thursday. Assemblyman Tim Donnelly has introduced a bill that would prohibit tax from being charged on college textbooks in California.

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Bill offers textbook relief

Donnelly introduces legislation to exempt sales tax on college books

SACRAMENTO • Assemblyman Tim Donnelly introduced a new bill that, if passed, will exempt college textbooks from California sales tax.

Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, introduced Assembly Bill 479 on Wednesday to remove the tax burden from students purchasing college textbooks.

According to the Board of Equalization, California has a minimum sales tax of 7.5 percent, making it one of the highest taxed states in the country.

A news release from Donnelly’s office states that only three out of 10 students purchase textbooks because rising prices have made them cost-prohibitive, which makes it more difficult for students to follow course-reading schedules and could hinder their education.

“AB 479 recognizes the importance of education in our state and removes an added burden the state currently places on students pursuing higher education,” Donnelly said in the release.

Students from Victor Valley College responded with a variety of opinions.

Shanice Tramble and Keanna Johnson said they would pay for their textbooks; tax or no tax.

“I purchase my books, regardless of what the tax is,” Johnson said. “I need them for my classes so it doesn’t matter to me.”

Tramble shared that sentiment.

“Whatever the price is, the price is,” Tramble said. “No matter what, I’m paying for them.”

Not all VVC students shared that view.

Stay-at-home mom and full-time student Shetera McKinney said every little bit of relief she can get helps her financially, and tax-free textbooks would offer a respite from the high prices on both new and used books.

“My textbooks actually cost more than my classes,” McKinney said. “So I have to borrow my friends’ books, check them out from the library, copy pages and rent them because I can’t afford them.”

Robert Sewell, director of auxiliary services at VVC, said the current tax on textbooks at the college’s bookstore matches the 8 percent sales tax in the High Desert. If the tax were to be eliminated, Sewell said, textbook sales may increase slightly and the college would receive little benefit from the increase, as the mark-up on books is returned to the campus and not considered much of a profit.

Donnelly said eliminating the sales tax will induce talented students from other parts of the country to come to California for college.

“By re-moving the sales tax on textbooks purchased at college bookstores, this measure will help hundreds of thousands of students throughout our state be able to more easily afford the cost of education,” Donnelly stated in the release.

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