Gov. DeSantis signs ‘Freedom Week’ and other tax relief into law

RON DESANTIS BILL SIGNING (7)
The state added one holiday and extended two others.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed this Legislative Session’s tax relief package, highlighted by a “Freedom Week” tax holiday timed for the peak of Summer.

The package (HB 7061), strengthened by the faster than anticipated economic recovery, is expected to create $196.3 million in relief for Floridians.

DeSantis credited lawmakers with introducing the “Freedom Week” tax holiday, which exempts outdoor gear and activities from sales taxes during the week of Independence Day. The measure, which the Governor said celebrates the Floridians’ freedoms from lockdowns, would encourage people to go outdoors as the state emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re proud of being a free state, we’re proud of being open, and we want taxpayers to be able to benefit if they’re participating in all these things,” DeSantis said.

While other states have been locked down, their residents have fled to Florida to experience the freedom and sunshine, he added.

“It’s a very important part of life to have access to different parts of culture,” DeSantis said. “You can’t just be sitting in your closet for a year. You have to be out, and you have to be living.”

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.

No state has hosted more in-person events over the last year than Florida, the Governor added.

House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Ways and Means Committee Chair Bobby Payne introduced the Freedom Week proposal.

“Here in Florida, our people believe in freedom, and luckily we have a Governor, and we have a Legislature and a Cabinet who believe in freedom as well,” Sprowls said.

Soon after the bill signing, Sprowls released a video akin to an advertisement for the new holiday.

DeSantis signed the measure at a Home Depot in Pensacola, a nod to one of the two renewed tax holidays in the package, the disaster preparedness sales tax holiday. The holiday will run from May 28 through June 6, a 10-day affair rather than the usual weeklong break.

The Governor also warned that this hurricane season could be stronger than normal and encouraged people to be prepared.

The third sales tax holiday, the back-to-school holiday, would run from July 31 to Aug. 9, longer than the usual weekend. That will make sure families have enough time to get everything they need, Sprowls said.

Together, the three holidays are expected to create $134.6 million of relief for Floridians.

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.

“The state of Florida now, in the next five to 10 years, will have the leading — what I believe will be — cancer research and institute in the United States, probably in the world, and it will rival any institution anywhere in the country,” Simpson said.

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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