Tax relief package to include ‘Freedom Week’

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The new tax holiday would waive sales tax on certain outdoor events and products.

This year’s tax package is expected to create $196.3 million in relief for Floridians, including through a new “Freedom Week” tax holiday.

By unanimous vote Friday, the Senate passed the tax package (HB 7061). Soon after, the House passed it 117-1, with Democratic Rep. Omari Hardy casting the lone dissenting vote.

Three tax holidays will provide an estimated $134.6 million of relief. Those proposals include the disaster preparedness tax holiday, an extended back-to-school holiday, and a new weeklong holiday for outdoor activities and products.

“This was made possible by a faster than expected economic recovery,” said Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez, a Doral Republican.

The House, which passed the base bill 109-3 last week, introduced the “Freedom Week” tax holiday, exempting outdoor gear and activities from sales taxes during the week of July Fourth. Earlier this month, House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Ways and Means Committee Chair Bobby Payne said the measure would encourage people to go outdoors as the state emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Coming out of what could be seen as our most difficult year in recent memory, I can’t think of a better way to encourage the celebration of our freedom and how far we have come — both as a nation and state,” Sprowls said in a statement. “This Fourth of July tax holiday is all about encouraging people to safely enjoy Florida’s greatest asset, the great outdoors.”

The holiday would run July 1-7 and would cover sporting and live music events, state park admission, gym dues and movie theater tickets for events held between those dates. It would also waive taxes on products like tents, sleeping bags or even sunscreen purchased that week.

In the final version, the back-to-school holiday would run from July 31 to Aug. 9, longer than the usual weekend.

“This last year has been quite a challenge for Florida families as they make decisions about how best to educate their children during the Pandemic,” Senate President Wilton Simpson said in a statement. “This legislation provides tax relief for families purchasing supplies for the new school year, which will be great help for those returning to in-person learning, and also provides savings for computers and other supplies that would be helpful for remote learning.”

The disaster preparedness holiday would run from May 28 through June 6.

The Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute gets a boost. Until 2054, the research hospital would get a portion of the Alcoholic Beverage and Tobacco Trust Fund.

The bill also expands the current tax exemption for affordable housing properties and creates a permanent sales tax exemption for items that support independent living. It also creates a Florida Internship Tax Credit Program for businesses hiring interns.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.



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