Clothing, shoes and backpacks costing $60 or less will be exempt from the state’s 6 percent sales tax the weekend of Aug. 5-7, while school supplies costing $15 or less also will be tax-free.
The back-to-school break amounts to $28.7 million of the $129 million tax-break package, with the biggest savings under the bill (HB 7099) going to manufacturers. They’ll get to keep $73.1 million they would have been paid in taxes on equipment purchases.
“We have made the decision in Florida that we can grow our economy, meet the needs of our state and care for the vulnerable not by having more taxes, but by having more taxpayers,” said House Finance and Tax Chairman Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach. “These tax cuts welcome new families, businesses, and visitors to our state each day.”
Other reductions included in the package affect taxes paid on aviation fuel, asphalt, pear cider, fruit and vegetable packing houses and how the state levy on some tobacco products is calculated.
The bill signed by Scott was a central part of just over $400 million in tax breaks approved by lawmakers this year. The biggest share of the reduction, however, will go to property taxpayers, with lawmakers having agreed to reduce taxes used to finance schools.
That tax cut was set in motion when Scott last month signed the state’s $82 billion budget for the year beginning July 1.
Scott’s fellow Republicans in the Legislature sharply scaled back a $1 billion tax-cut plan he sought, and also ignored his pitch for $250 million in economic incentives.
The governor campaigned vigorously for the high-priced package, running television ads, conducting a bus tour in January, and soliciting letters of support from dozens of city and county officials for the tax breaks and economic incentives that he cast as a blueprint for sparking the Florida economy and creating more jobs.
Lawmakers, however, were uneasy about the potential long-term impact of Scott’s plans on Florida’s financing. They also were skeptical of his approach.
Scott’s $1 billion cuts were aimed almost exclusively at businesses. His bid for another $250 million in economic incentives also was dismissed by state lawmakers wary of handing the governor cash he could use to pick and choose companies he might woo to the state.
Instead, lawmakers tipped the tax-break proposal more toward consumers — especially with the move reducing property taxes.
The almost 6 percent reduction in the property tax for public schools should mean a tax savings of $58 a year to the owner of a $250,000 home with a $50,000 homestead exemption.
“By reducing local millage rates we are ensuring that state tax dollars, rather than local property taxes, cover a larger share of the unprecedented K-12 per-student funding allocated this year in our budget,” said Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando.