Governor Ron DeSantis signed a tax bill Wednesday that is estimated to save Florida families nearly $47 million during two sales tax holidays. Another part of the bill is expected to save commercial real estate renters more than $64 million by reducing the tax rate.
James Miller, Senior Director of External Affairs for the Florida Retail Federation, explains how the new tax package offers families more tax breaks than in the past.
"Having the back to school sales tax holiday first of all at 5 days is great," Miller says. "It’s been 3 days for the past 3 years, so adding a couple extra days is wonderful."
Along with extended the length, the legislature also included computers under $1,000 in the sales tax exemption.
"Students of all ages need technology nowadays," Miller says. "You have everyone from kindergarteners up to college kids needing a laptop or an iPad or something to be able to do their schoolwork nowadays. So being able to save sales tax money on $1,000 is a lot of money."
Miller says the sales tax holiday doesn’t just help the shoppers.
"What we see is people save money on those items not paying sales tax, and they actually go and buy ancillary items or supporting items for those technology items that they’ve bought," Miller says. "Whether it be power cords or devices or whatever it may be, it ends up helping the retailer’s extra in addition to getting the people in the door to begin with."
Another part of this year’s tax package is the week-long hurricane preparedness sales tax holiday. It makes things like batteries, radios, tarps, and generators under $750 tax free.
"It's vitally important to have a kit ready and to be prepared both during and after the storm. If you lose power, if you run out of food or need any type of medical supplies or anything you may need. Go and get whatever you need to make sure that you and your family are safe following the storm," Miller says.
Both tax cut holidays are expected to help Florida families spend less on items they need most.
“The state has estimated that the back-to-school sales tax holiday and the disaster preparedness sales tax holiday would save Florida families about $46 million this year,” said Carolyn Johnson a Policy Director with the Florida Chamber of Commerce.
She describes another portion of the tax cut package.
"The business rent tax is reduced from 5.7% to 5.5%, and that might not seem like a lot. But there are some companies that might lease multiple spaces and so they’re paying that sales tax on multiple locations," Johnson says.
Johnson says when those 2 percentage points are put into a dollar amount, it’s easier to see exactly how impactful the tax break can be.
"The savings on an annual basis to the business community is $64.5 million, which is a lot of money for businesses to then turn around and reinvest back into their business, as well as, invest back into their employees," Johnson says.
The new law also grants refunds of sales tax paid on materials and motor fuel used in relation to Hurricane Michael, and it raises the reduction of a traffic fine when a driver attends traffic school from 9 to 18 percent.