The Sunshine State’s sales tax break begins this Friday

Sales Tax – Courtesy: Shutterstock – Image by Maha Heang 245789

Florida residents facing the effects of inflation will get a second opportunity to save on “freedom” beginning on Friday.

Set near the Fourth of July for the second year in a row, a sales-tax holiday nicknamed “Freedom Week” will provide tax breaks on a variety of outdoor gear and recreational activities.

A yearly tax package (HB 7071) that also provides additional tax holidays and sales-tax exemptions include freedom week. Around the beginning of hurricane season on June 1, the state had hosted a disaster preparedness tax holiday. Later this summer, it will hold a back-to-school tax holiday.

“With the pressures of inflation, and the concerns that are out there, we want to see people continue to support our local retailers,” said Scott Shalley, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation, which has long lobbied for tax holidays.

Before the tax package was signed on May 6 at Sam’s Club in Ocala, Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis pointed to the economic pressure from inflation and described freedom week as a way that “families can afford a fun summer vacation.”

However, not everyone is in support of the tax holidays.

The Washington, D.C.-based Center for State Tax Policy at the Tax Foundation questions the actual financial and economic benefits of tax holidays, pointing to studies showing consumers switch the timing of purchases and that in some cases retailers have increased prices during these discount periods.

“States are sitting on surpluses at the same time many taxpayers are struggling under the burden of high inflation,” Jared Walczak, the foundation’s vice president of state projects, told The New York Times this month.

“State tax holidays tend to be political gimmicks,” Walczak continued.

Sales taxes will be waived during freedom week, which runs from July 2 to July 7, on items like concerts, movies, sporting events, and museum tickets, as well as on equipment and supplies for outdoor activities such as kayaks, grills, and fishing rods.

The first freedom week in 2021 was granted by lawmakers in part to encourage people who were staying indoors because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Florida Retail Federation and state economists expect that more people will take advantage of the holiday this year.

“A lot of our retailers are running their own promotional deals to try to get folks out,” Shalley said. “It’s an opportunity to save money on fun stuff. We’re usually talking about disaster preparedness and back-to-school. But in this case, with freedom week, we’re talking about outdoor activities, recreational products, fishing gear, and a wide range of things.”

Last year, the Office of Economic & Demographic Research of the Legislature predicted that freedom week would result in a $42 million reduction in state revenue and a $12.7 million reduction in local revenue.

This year, it is anticipated that state revenue will decrease by $54.5 million and local revenue by $16.1 million.

Other tax breaks, in addition to freedom week, will start on Friday. Sales taxes on children’s diapers, Energy Star refrigerators, washing machines, and dryers will all be eliminated for the upcoming year.

A two-year tax exemption on impact-resistant windows, doors, and garage doors will also begin on Friday.

Below are some of the purchases included during the Freedom Week sales tax holiday:

  • Tickets purchased for live music, live sports, plays, movies, fairs and festivals, for events through Dec. 31.
  • Entry to museums and state parks, including annual passes.
  • The first $5 on the price of fishing bait and tackle.
  • The first $15 on the price of sunscreen and insect repellent.
  • The first $25 on the price of swimming snorkels, goggles and masks.
  • The first $30 on the price of fishing tackle boxes, water bottles, camping lanterns and flashlights.
  • The first $35 on the price of recreational pool tubes, pool floats, inflatable chairs and pool toys.
  • The first $50 on the price of sleeping bags, portable hammocks, camping stoves, collapsible camping chairs and bicycle helmets.
  • The first $75 on the price of life jackets, coolers, paddles, oars, fishing rods and reels.
  • The first $100 of the price of sunglasses.
  • The first $150 on the price of water skis, wakeboards and kneeboards.
  • The first $200 on the price of tents and binoculars.
  • The first $250 on the price of bicycles and grills.
  • The first $300 on the price of paddle boards and surfboards.
  • The first $500 on the price of canoes and kayaks.

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