Fla. House Tax Package That Includes Sales Tax 'Holidays' Gets Initial Thumbs Up

Apr 16, 2021

As legislative leaders work on a new state budget, a House proposal that would provide at least $61.5 million in tax reductions next fiscal year drew support Friday from the Ways & Means Committee.

The proposal, which likely will be reshaped as part of budget negotiations with the Senate, features sales tax “holidays” on back-to-school supplies and hurricane gear and a “freedom week” related to entertainment and outdoor activities.

The $61.5 million estimate is expected to increase, as Ways & Means Chairman Bobby Payne, R-Palatka, said state economists have not studied all of the impacts of the bill.

The proposal is topped by a back-to-school tax holiday in August that would be estimated to save $44.5 million in state and local sales taxes for shoppers.

During the period, shoppers would be able to avoid paying sales taxes on clothes costing $60 or less, school supplies costing $15 or less and personal computers costing less than $1,000.

During a disaster-preparedness holiday over seven days around the June 1 start of hurricane season, shoppers would be able to avoid paying sales taxes on items ranging from tarpaulins and small batteries to portable generators costing up to $750.

The “freedom week” holiday, which would be held the first week of July, would provide a sales-tax exemption on tickets purchased for such things as live music, athletic contests and in-theater movies.

The tickets could be for events that occur later in the year. “I really do like many of the things that you added,” Rep. Dianne Hart, D-Tampa, told Payne. “I couldn't understand why we were letting people go to concerts. And I started thinking, ‘Oh, my God, they’ve been housed in a cage for a year. Yes, they do need some outside activity.’ And I get that.”

The bill also includes proposals such as a property tax discount for certain multifamily projects that provide affordable housing to low-income families. It also would allow local governments to use tourist-development and convention-development taxes for flood mitigation projects, which is opposed by the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association.