Sales Tax Holiday’ Includes Other Discounts this Year

In addition to hurricane and school sales tax holidays, lawmakers added an entertainment one. Businesses can also get a tax credit up to $5M for some charity donations. 

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Floridians are in line to get “holidays” from paying sales taxes as they prepare for the school year and hurricane season, and as they plan to get out for some entertainment and recreation.

State lawmakers on Thursday released a nearly $200 million tax package tied to a new state budget. The package focuses heavily on tax holidays on back-to-school items, hurricane gear and what House leaders dubbed “Freedom Week” around the July 4 holiday.

As with most aspects of the state’s budget talks this year, the tax proposals grew with the state’s expected infusion of federal stimulus money and increased state revenue as the economy has reopened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This was made possible by a faster than expected economic recovery,” says Senate Finance and Tax Chairwoman Ana Maria Rodriguez, a Doral Republican who sponsored the proposal (HB 7061) in the Senate.

The apparent tax deal has 22 separate parts, including a long-discussed repeal of an unused pool of state money approved in 2014 to help build and renovate professional sports stadiums. The package also would create a college internship program that offers tax credits of up to $10,000 a year to businesses and would set aside $17.5 million for taxpayers that clean contaminated brownfields.

The proposal also would establish a $5 million “Strong Families Tax Credit” for businesses that contribute to charitable organizations dedicated to such things as preventing child abuse, helping fathers improve parenting skills and providing books or reduced-price meals to children.

When the House voted 109-3 on its version of a tax package last week, the impact to state and local revenue was projected at $100.1 million. But the revised package carries a $196.3 million price tag, with tax holidays accounting for the biggest chunks. Lawmakers were expected to approve it Friday, the final day of the legislative session.

Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, suggested making the holidays longer. 

“Yes, we should prepare with buying batteries and flashlights and things like that (before hurricane season),” Gibson said. “But as we know, there are a lot of apartment condo dwellers with kids and individuals who may need more on the sales-tax holiday side as they prepare for school and things like that.”

A 10-day back-to-school holiday would start July 31 and is expected to save shoppers $69.4 million in state and local taxes. It would allow shoppers to avoid paying sales taxes on clothes costing $60 or less, school supplies costing $15 or less and the first $1,000 of price of a personal computer.

Another 10-day tax holiday on disaster-preparedness gear would start May 28, just before the June 1 beginning of hurricane season. It would allow shoppers to avoid paying sales taxes on items ranging from tarpaulins and small batteries to portable generators costing up to $1,000. The shopping period is expected to cut state and local revenue $10.5 million.

The House-backed “Freedom Week” holiday would start July 1 and is projected to punch a $54.7 million hole in state revenue. It would provide a sales-tax exemption on tickets purchased for such things as live music, athletic contests, in-theater movies, cultural events, museums, state parks and fitness facilities, as well certain outdoor camping and fishing gear. 

Tickets could be purchased that week for events that occur later in the year, including annual passes.

Since people would be expected to be outside, the proposal would offer discounts on the first $30 on the sales price of water bottles and the first $15 for sunscreen.

Source: News Service of Florida

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