Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is currently examining a $1 billion tax-relief package which includes two sales tax “holiday” periods set to start this weekend. The tax package, HB 7063, proposes a 14-day sales tax holiday on hurricane supplies, common household items, and pet supplies, in addition to a three-month long “Freedom Summer” period aimed at encouraging Floridians to be more physically active. The state budget (SB 2500) is also pending action by DeSantis.
The two upcoming sales-tax holidays, which are supported by the Florida Retail Federation, are vastly expanded from previous tax breaks. State economists have predicted that the holiday periods will account for nearly 40% of the $965.6 million in sales tax and time-limited tax credits in the tax package. However, Scott Shalley, President and CEO of the Tallahassee-based lobbying group, has expressed uncertainty about consumers’ response to the proposed tax breaks.
The focus of the sales tax holidays will initially be on storm-preparation discounts, which will now extend beyond batteries and portable radios to include common household supplies such as laundry, trash bags, and pet foods. The 2023 Atlantic Hurricane season officially begins on June 1, starting from which date the “disaster preparedness” holiday period runs until June 9. The hurricane season period will be rerun just before the peak of the storm season, from August 26 to September 8.
The “Freedom” holiday, which in past years was a week-long tax holiday on Independence Day weekend, encompasses the summer period from Monday to Labor Day, Sept. 4. This holiday lifts sales taxes throughout the summer on a variety of items for outdoor activities, including exercise equipment, camping supplies, ball game, concert, and art museum tickets.
State economists have estimated that the disaster-prep periods would save shoppers $143.8 million, with “Freedom Summer” carrying a $229.9 million price tag for state and local revenue. The tax package also proposes lifting taxes on Energy Star appliances and gas ranges for all fiscal year 2023-2024, which starts on July 1. It includes sales-tax holidays on school items from July 24 to Aug. 6 and again from Jan. 1 to Jan. 14, and a tax break on skilled workers’ tools from September 2 to September 8.
As of Monday, DeSantis had not received the tax package or the record $117 billion state spending plan. The tax package also outlines specific discounts for disaster preparedness, including items ranging from less than $10 for cans or pouches of wet pet food to under $50 for portable self-powered light sources and pet beds.