Assemblyman Tim Donnelly of the 33rd District of California has introduced the Textbook Tax Relief Act, Assembly Bill 479, which aims to exempt textbooks from any state sales tax in order to reduce the cost of higher education.

Through freeing college textbooks from the additional 8 percent tax in Santa Barbara County, the act aspires not only to save California students money but to attract potential out-of-state students as well. The increasing price of college textbooks has forced seven out of 10 college students to forgo buying textbooks, according to the website for Donnelly’s petition.

If passed, the act will strive to make higher education more affordable by cutting down on the cost of required learning materials, according to a press release sent by Donnelly.

“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 press release. “By removing 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. It will also incentivize talented students from other parts of the country to come to California for college.”

First-year undeclared major Josh Swedelson said that the high cost of textbooks prevents him from purchasing many of the required books for his coursework.
“I do not purchase all of my books for classes. Some books that I haven’t bought my friends have given me … a few of my books are second-hand,” Swedelson said.

According to Swedelson, rising tuition costs coupled with the increasing rigor of the quarter system put students in a financial bind.

“Tuition costs may seem like a greater increase at first, but over time textbooks hold a higher aggregated value,” Swedelson said. “Buying books is more difficult on a quarter system because we have more courses each year and therefore need to purchase more books.”

Third-year theater major Rose Fliegel said that passing the Textbook Tax Relief Act would drastically change how students study.

“Removing this tax makes books more cost-efficient and affords the opportunity for increased study time,” Fliegel said. “Checking out books at the library or borrowing them from friends does not help students learn as well as owning the books required for class.”

Additionally, Fliegel said that reduced textbook prices would help to put education back on the agenda for students cramped for cash.

“I think that this is a good step forward in making education a priority. Students can spend up to $500 per quarter on textbooks alone,” Fliegel said. “When we’re counting our pennies to get by, spending less on books makes a huge difference.”

For those interested in passing Assembly Bill 479, the Textbook Tax Relief Act, the online petition is available at