A tax relief package that includes back-to-school, disaster preparedness and Freedom Week tax holidays is poised to impact summer buying plans starting May 28.
The Florida Legislature overwhelmingly passed the bipartisan legislation, HB 7061, and Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to sign it into law.
The bill focuses on sales tax holidays that lawmakers say will help Floridians preparing for the upcoming hurricane season and the 2021-22 school year. It also incentivizes individuals and families to participate in outdoor activities and events.
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.
“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, R-Trilby 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.”
Rep. Joe Geller, D-Aventura, said the legislation sends financial assistance where it is most needed.
“This bill helps citizens directly,” he said when the bill passed. “It doesn’t have big payoffs for large companies. It helps the people.”
Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez, R-Miami, who sponsored the bill, said the money directed toward hurricane preparedness is crucial.
“We have all been so focused on the pandemic that it can be easy to forget that hurricane season is right around the corner,” she said in a statement. “This bill incentivizes advanced planning with tax breaks on key supplies families and businesses need for disaster preparedness.”
Here are some relevant details of the legislation:
During the week of July 1-7, 2021, purchases of admissions to music events, sporting events, cultural events, specified performances, movies, museums, state park annual passes, and fitness facilities for events held from July 1-Dec. 31, 2021, will be tax free. Additionally, purchases of season tickets are also exempted.
The Freedom Week sales tax holiday also applies to sales of boating and water activity supplies, camping supplies, fishing supplies, general outdoor supplies, and sports equipment.
- Boating and water supplies: The tax holiday applies to the first $75 of the sales price of life jackets and coolers; the first $50 of the sales price of safety flares; the first $150 of the sales price of water skis, wakeboards, kneeboards, and recreational inflatable water tubes or floats capable of being towed; the first $300 of the sales price of paddle boards and surfboards; the first $500 of the sales price of canoes and kayaks; the first $75 of the sales price of paddles and oars; and the first $25 of the sales price of snorkels, goggles, and swimming masks.
- Camping supplies: The tax holiday applies to the first $200 of the sales price of tents; the first $50 of the sales price of sleeping bags, portable hammocks, camping stoves, and collapsible camping chairs; and the first $30 of the sales price of camping lanterns and flashlights.
- Fishing supplies: The tax holiday applies to the first $75 of the sales price of rods and reels, if sold individually, or the first $150 of the sales price if sold as a set; the first $30 of the sales price of tackle boxes or bags; and the first $5 of the sale price of bait or fishing tackle, if sold individually, or the first $10 of the sales price if multiple items are sold together.
- General outdoor supplies: The tax holiday applies to the first $15 of the sales price of sunscreen or insect repellant; the first $100 of the sales price of sunglasses; the first $200 of the sales price of binoculars; the first $30 of the sales price of water bottles; the first $50 of the sales price of hydration packs; the first $250 of the sales price of outdoor gas or charcoal grills; the first $50 of the sales price of bicycle helmets; and the first $250 of the sales price of bicycles.
- Sports Equipment: The tax holiday applies to any item used in individual or team sports, not including clothing or footwear, selling for $40 or less.
Back-to-school sales tax holiday
The legislation creates a 10-day “back-to-school” sales tax holiday from July 31 to August 9, 2021, for clothing, footwear, and backpacks costing $60 or less, school supplies costing $15 or less, and the first $1,000 of the sales tax price of personal computers or personal computer-related accessories.
Disaster preparedness sales tax holiday
The legislation creates a 10-day “disaster preparedness” sales tax holiday from May 28 to June 6, 2021, for disaster preparedness supplies. Some examples of tax-free items include: flashlights and lanterns costing $40 or less; radios costing $50 or less; tarps costing $100 or less, coolers costing $60 or less, batteries costing $50 or less; and, generators costing $1,000 or less.
Tax credit for affordable housing
Florida law currently offers property owners who provide affordable housing to low-income individuals and families a 50 percent discount for property taxes on these units. The discount applies only to properties with more than 70 units and begins after the property has been recorded as an affordable housing property for 15 years.
To incentivize more property owners to offer affordable housing units, the bill expands the property tax discount to 100 percent of property taxes. Continuing the current requirement, the 100 percent exemption does not begin until the property has been recorded as an affordable housing property for 15 years.
Permanent sales tax exemption for independent living items
The legislation creates a permanent sales tax exemption for items that assist in independent living. When purchased for noncommercial, home or personal use, the exemption applies to bed transfer handles selling for $60 or less, bed rails selling for $110 or less, grab bars selling for $100 or less, and shower seats selling for $100 or less.