Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday signed a handful of bills, including a tax cut package that will bring back the disaster preparedness and back-to-school sales tax holidays for 2020.
The tax cut bill, HB 7097, was at one point more ambitious, with reductions in the communications services tax and qualified target industry refunds featured prominently.
But as the threat of the coronavirus pandemic loomed in the waning days of the 2020 Legislative Session, lawmakers opened the bill back up and pared it back significantly, reducing the $120 million cut by more than half.
As passed, the state coffers would take a nearly $37 million haircut, and local taxes would be reduced by almost $11 million. Still, the sales tax holidays were preserved.
The disaster preparedness holiday will run from May 29 through June 4 and allow Floridians to purchase certain items sans sales tax.
Included in the event: flashlights under $20, portable radios under $50, tarps under $50, ground anchor systems or tie-down kits under $50, gas or diesel containers under $25, batteries under $30, coolers under $30, generators under $750 and reusable ice packs under $10.
The school holiday, set for Aug. 7-9, includes clothing and shoes under $60 per item; backpacks, handbags and wallets, under $60 per item; and school supplies priced $15 or less per item. Also making a comeback: Personal computers and accessories priced at or under $1,000.
The Florida Retail Federation celebrated the bill’s final approval in a statement released shortly after it was signed.
“These programs are needed now more than ever,” said Scott Shalley, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation.
“Not only do these important tax-free holidays provide relief to consumers buying necessities, but they will inject a shot of adrenaline into Florida’s retail businesses after suffering through the COVID-19 pandemic and forced closures. Thank you to the Florida Legislature and Governor DeSantis for delivering this tax relief.”
Other parts of the tax bill involve policy issues, such as a change that could lead to more local capital-outlay tax dollars going to charter schools. Another change deals with requirements for hospitals to qualify for a charitable tax exemption.
Material from the News Service of Florida was used in this post.