By Ryan Dailey and Tom Urban
As summer break winds down and students gear up for the academic year, a back-to-school tax “holiday” on items such as clothes and school supplies has begun.
Sales-tax exemptions on school-related purchases will run through Aug. 7. The holiday, which has become an annual event, was part of a broader $800 million tax package that Gov. Ron DeSantis signed in May.
The package also included tax breaks on hurricane supplies, outdoor goods, diapers, children’s clothing, and books.
During the back-to-school holiday, most school supplies that cost $50 or less will be exempt from sales taxes.
The holiday also will apply to clothing, shoes, and accessories selling for $100 or less and learning aids and jigsaw puzzles that cost $30 or less. Sales taxes also won’t be collected on some big-ticket items, such as personal computers selling for $1,500 or less.
Scott Shalley, president of the Florida Retail Federation, told The News Service of Florida that consumers should expect some retailers to provide additional savings.
“A lot of our retailers are going to be offering sales alongside the sales-tax holiday and really try to motivate people to get out and shop,” Shalley said. “We are at a time of high inflation, and you have got to spread the dollar as far as you can.”
Shalley called the tax holiday a “great break for the consumer.”
“While there is some discretionary spending, there are things that need to be bought that the students need to have to go back to school. So, it’s a really important holiday,” Shalley said.
The research group Florida TaxWatch estimated that the back-to-school tax holiday could save Florida consumers $100 million.
“In 2022, a year already defined by record and rampant inflation, Florida TaxWatch can certainly appreciate the savings this sales-tax holiday will once again generate, but we are also hopeful that parents will view it as an opportunity to help their children — students of all ages — get excited about all they will learn and achieve in school,” TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic Calabro said in a statement Wednesday.
Lawmakers were flush with cash this year, which helped them provide tax breaks.
The sales-tax exemption for children’s books started in May and will continue through Aug. 14. Intended to give consumers a break on reading materials primarily for children 12 and younger, it applies to purchases of picture books, books for beginning readers, and middle-grade books.
Under an exemption that started at the beginning of July, sales tax on diapers and clothing for babies and toddlers will be waived through June 30, 2023.
Also, lawmakers approved a sales-tax exemption that will run through June 30, 2024, on purchases to harden homes against potentially damaging storms. In addition, an exemption on purchases of energy-efficient appliances will last through June 30, 2023.
A one-week sales tax exemption on home-improvement supplies — dubbed by lawmakers as the “tool time” holiday — will start Sept. 3. Also, the state’s 25-cents-a-gallon gasoline tax will be suspended for October.
Around the June 1 start of hurricane season, the state held a tax holiday for purchases of disaster-preparedness supplies. It also held a “Freedom Week” tax holiday around July 4 on various recreational and entertainment purchases.
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