Tax relief package with ‘Freedom Week,’ Moffitt boost heads to Gov. DeSantis’ desk

silhouette of guitar player in action on stage in front of concert crowd
The tax holiday would cover sporting, live music and other outdoor events.

This year’s tax package awaits Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ signature after lawmakers sent the bill to his desk Thursday.

The package (HB 7061) is expected to create $196.3 million in relief for Floridians, including through a new “Freedom Week” tax holiday. That and two returning but elongated holidays — the disaster preparedness and back-to-school tax holidays — are alone expected to make up $134.6 million of that relief.

A faster than anticipated economic recovery made the million in relief possible, according to one bill sponsor, Doral Republican Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez.

The House, which passed the bill 117-1, introduced the “Freedom Week” tax holiday, exempting outdoor gear and activities from sales taxes during the week of July Fourth. Last 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 covers 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.

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.

A last-minute Senate amendment tucked into the package redirects millions of new dollars to support Moffitt Cancer Center. The increase would allow the center to receive an estimated $26.9 million next fiscal year and $38.4 million in the 2024-2025 fiscal year.

Under the current system, Moffitt receives about $15.6 million a year. However, the amendment increases Moffitt’s share of the cigarette tax from 4.4% to 7% for the next three years, and 10% after that, through 2054.

Senators approved the bill unanimously.

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.

West Palm Beach Democratic Rep. Omari Hardy cast the lone dissenting vote on the bill’s final passage.

DeSantis has until May 28 to act on the bill. Unless he vetoes it, it will take effect July 1, the start of the next fiscal year.

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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