Retailers are awaiting action from Gov. Ron DeSantis as two of six sales tax “holiday” periods included in a proposed nearly $1 billion tax relief package begin this weekend.
Key components of the tax package (HB 7063) include a 14-day period in which sales taxes on hurricane, general household and pet products would be waived, as well as a separate three-month effort to encourage people to be more physically active, called “Summer of Freedom”. The proposal accompanies the state budget (SB 2500), which also awaits a decision by DeSantis.
The next two sales tax holidays, which are strongly supported by the Florida Retail Federation, are significantly expanded over the tax breaks of previous years. The holiday is expected to account for nearly 40 percent of the $965.6 million in sales tax and time-limited tax credits in the tax package, according to state economists.
But Scott Shelley, president and CEO of the Tallahassee-based lobbying group, said it’s not yet clear how shoppers will react to the proposed tax breaks.
“We really don’t feel it yet because it’s new. And because we’re on a relatively short timeline here in terms of the governor’s approval,” Shelley told The News Service of Florida. “We are very grateful for how durable these factors are. We just want to make sure people are educated and that they go out and shop.”
Much of the initial focus will be on storm-preparation discounts, which will now extend not only to batteries and portable radios, but also to common household items such as linens, garbage bags and even pet food. The already active 2023 Atlantic hurricane season officially begins on June 1.
“Keep in mind that this is a holiday that is designed to prepare for natural disasters, but certainly not limited to that,” Shelley said. “So this is a great time to shop for these items and go out and save a few dollars.”
If approved by DeSantis, the holiday “disaster preparedness” period would run from Saturday through June 9. It will be repeated just before the peak of storm season, from August 26 to September 8.
The second subsequent holiday will remove sales taxes during the summer on a variety of outdoor goods, from working out and camping to attending a ball game, concert or art museum.
The “freedom” holiday for the past two years has been a week-long tax holiday spanning Independence Day weekend. This year’s plan will stretch from Monday through Labor Day, September 4.
State economists estimate that disaster preparedness periods will save shoppers $143.8 million, and Freedom Summer is worth $229.9 million in state and local revenue.
The tax package also eliminates taxes on Energy Star appliances and gas stoves for the entire 2023-24 fiscal year, which begins July 1. The offer also includes a back-to-school sales tax holiday from July 24 to August 6 and again from January .. 1 to January 14 and a skilled workers’ tool tax break from September 2 to 8.
As of Monday, the governor had yet to come up with a tax package or a record $117 billion government spending plan.
Here’s what lawmakers included in the disaster preparedness holiday:
- Items $10 or less: Cans or bags of wet dog or cat food.
- Items $15 or less: Hand cans, pet waste bags, cat litter boxes, foldable or travel food or water bowls, and hamster or rabbit litter.
- Items $20 or less: Reusable ice, pet leashes, collars and muzzles and pet pads.
- Items $25 or less: Cat litter weighing 25 pounds or less.
- Items $30 or less: Laundry detergent and consumables such as fabric softener, dryer and bleach; Toilet paper; paper towels, paper napkins and handkerchiefs; hand soap, bar of soap and body wash; sunscreen; dish soap and detergents; cleaning or disinfecting wipes and sprays; hand sanitizer; and garbage bags.
- Items $40 or less: Self-powered portable lights and pet beds.
- Items valued at $50 or less: Batteries, excluding car and boat batteries; tanks for gas or diesel fuel; portable autonomous radio stations; two-way radio stations; and a radio with a weather band.
- Items $60 or less: Portable food banks and non-electric refrigerators for food storage.
- Items under $70: Smoke detectors or smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Items $100 or less: Bags of dry dog and cat food weighing 50 pounds or less, over-the-counter pet medications, portable pet kennels or carriers, tarps or other flexible waterproof materials, and ground anchor systems or tie-down kits.
- Items $3,000 or less: Portable generators.
- Here is an overview of the Summer of Freedom discounts offered:
- Tickets for live music concerts, live sporting events, fairs, festivals, ballet, plays or movies at a theater scheduled to take place between May 29 and December 31.
- Museum or state park admission, including any annual pass and gym membership.
- Items $5 or less: Bait or fishing tackle.
- Items $15 or less: Sunscreen, sunscreen, and insect repellent.
- Items under $25: Snorkels, goggles and swim masks.
- Items $30 or less: Camping lights and flashlights, tackle boxes or bags, and water bottles.
- Items under $35: Relax tubes, pool floats, inflatable chairs and pool toys.
- Items under $50: Sleeping bags, portable hammocks, camping stoves, folding camping chairs, safety lamps, hydration packs and bike helmets.
- Items $75 or less: Rods & Reels; life jackets; coolers; oars and oars.
- Items valued at $100 or less: Children’s sports equipment for persons 12 and under; sunglasses; and replacement parts for residential pools and spas.
- Items $150 and Under: Jet Skis; wakeboards; knee pads; recreational inflatable tubes or towable floats; and residential pool and spa chemicals when purchased for individual use.
- Items $200 and under: Tents and Binoculars.
- Items under $250: Outdoor gas and charcoal grills.
- Items $300 or less: Paddleboards and surfboards.
- Items $500 and under: Canoes, Kayaks and Bicycles.
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