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ASCSU aims to remove taxes from textbooks with new bill

The+Colorado+State+University+Bookstore+logo+inside+the+Lory+Student+Center+Oct.+23%2C+2017.+Students+spend+hundreds+of+dollars+on+textbooks+a+year.+The+CSU+Bookstore+could+help+accommodate+students+budgets.+%28Brandon+Mendoza+%7C+Collegian+File+Photo%29+
The Colorado State University Bookstore logo inside the Lory Student Center Oct. 23, 2017. Students spend hundreds of dollars on textbooks a year. The CSU Bookstore could help accommodate students’ budgets. (Brandon Mendoza | Collegian File Photo)

Textbooks can be one of the most expensive purchases students at Colorado State University make each semester. Some classes even require multiple textbooks, adding to the cost students must pay.

The Associated Students of CSU are pushing for Colorado to remove taxes on textbooks to help students with the cost. ASCSU will be working with Rep. Andrew Boesenecker in the Colorado General Assembly to pass the bill and help students save money.

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ASCSU President Nick DeSalvo has been working on removing state sales tax on textbooks as part of his effort to make college more affordable for students, ASCSU Chief of Staff Braxton Dietz said. The cost of textbooks is often an issue for many students trying to pursue an education past high school.  

The CSU Bookstore offers the chance for students to purchase textbooks from them as well as sell those textbooks back.

“Colorado State University students can charge course materials to their student accounts, allowing them to get the course materials they need and pay at a later date,” the bookstore’s website reads. “Every Colorado State University student can charge course materials and essential supplies to their student account.” The website also claims that the buyback system saved students nearly $5.5 million last year.

The CSU Office of Financial Aid lists on its website that the cost of textbooks for undergraduate students is $1,200 during the nine-month academic year. For graduate students, that cost is listed as $720. Veterinary students had the highest cost at $1,680.

The idea to remove the state sales tax on textbooks first came from DeSalvo as a way to reinforce the DeSalvo-Silverhart administration’s commitment to increased affordability of higher education,” Dietz said. “Not only will this help students, … but (it) also will help university bookstores as more students will opt to buy there instead of third-party sources. We are working with (Boesenecker) and several other Colorado universities to accomplish this.”

There’s a lot that goes into a process like this, and it starts with introducing the bill. ASCSU went as far as hiring a professional contract lobbying firm to help with the process.

The bill came about in May 2023 with the DeSalvo administration taking over at ASCSU. The bill was brought to Boesenecker, who collaborates with ASCSU on bills in the state legislature.

“Nick and Mike Ellis came up with this idea,” Director of Governmental Affairs Michael Stella said. “We took it to (Boesenecker), who’s our state representative, and he was ecstatic to take on the bill. Each … legislator … at the state legislature gets a total of five bills. And the pre-filed bill is the first bill that they can introduce. Boesenecker was so excited about this bill that he made his pre-file bill. So we brought the idea to him, and then he tells legislative legal services at the state capitol about the bill idea, (and) he gives them a rough draft. And then they’re the lawyers — they’re the ones who write the bill.”

The bill is meant to help struggling students with the cost of attending college.

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ASCSU has a major part to play in this bill. Their role goes beyond simply bringing it to someone else. They must have their own set of discussions before that process.

“We work with lobbyists and representatives on … the Legislative Strategy Advisory Board, and we vote on, like, if we think we should support this bill or we’re against it, but with our lobbyists, we’ve been working a lot with, like, trying to get several bills passed, but the textbook bill has been really big,” ASCSU Director of Finance Ashton Duffield said. “I know Nick was thinking about that at the beginning of the year.”

One impact of this bill on the CSU Bookstore would be what items can be eligible for tax removal. Issues might arise about what is and is not a textbook for certain classes.

“Where we are right now, the bill has been introduced on the house floor,” Stella said. “So it’s an actual bill now, which is exciting. And we’re expecting it’s going to go to the House Finance Committee, and were expecting the first hearing to be on Feb. 8.”

A positive aspect of this bill is that it won’t harm the university bookstore’s profits. The removal of taxes on textbooks does not include the revenue to the bookstore. As more and more students buy cheaper online versions of textbooks or even pirate textbooks online, this bill could help. 

“The bookstore would see no, no fiscal impact,” Stella said. “It might even see a boost in textbook sales.”

The bill is proposed to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2025.

Reach Tyler Weatherwax at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @twwax7272.

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About the Contributor
Tyler Weatherwax
Tyler Weatherwax, News Editor
Tyler Weatherwax is a second-year attending Colorado State University. He has lived in the state of Colorado for his entire life and grew up just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park. He is currently majoring in journalism and media communication and is a news editor for The Collegian and assistant news director for KCSU. Weatherwax hopes to share some of the world with people through his reporting and experiences. His goal as a journalist is to bring information to others in the hopes that it inspires and educates them in their lives. He also tries to push himself into the unknown to cause some discomfort in his life and reporting. Weatherwax has been a DJ for 90.5 FM KCSU as well as 88.3 FM KFFR. Some things Weatherwax enjoys doing are playing bass guitar, reading, collecting records, going outside and spending time with his friends and family. Weatherwax hopes to become a journalist after he graduates and to see more of the world.

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