Broad-Based Tax Relief Package Becomes Law

May 25 • 555 Views • View Comments

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Back-To-School and Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holidays, Sales
Tax Exemption for Feminine Hygiene Products, Lower Business Rent Tax

Florida Governor Rick Scott today signed House Bill (HB) 7109, Taxation. The legislation, sponsored in the Senate by Senator Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland), Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance and Tax, will deliver broad-based tax relief to families and businesses across the state.

“I am pleased to see this comprehensive tax relief package become law,” said Senate President Joe Negron (R-Stuart). “Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature have worked together for the last several years to reduce the tax burden facing Florida families and businesses in a broad-based and meaningful way. This good bill furthers that commitment.”

“From tax savings for parents and students preparing for the new school year, to permanent savings for women’s health products, the Senate is advancing legislation that will keep more money in the pockets of the hardworking Florida families who earn it,” said Senator Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland). “This tax relief package incorporates many of the ideas suggested by Senators and vetted by our Committee, and I am pleased to see it become law today. My colleagues and I want to remind all Floridians that they can begin taking advantage of this tax savings by stocking up on critical supplies during the Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday, which runs from June 2 through June 4, just in time for hurricane season.”

Establishes the 2017 Back-To-School Sales Tax Holiday

The legislation creates a three-day “back-to-school” sales tax holiday from August 4-6, 2017, for clothing and footwear costing $60 or less, school supplies costing less than $15, and for  a personal computer or personal computer-related accessories, including tablets, costing $750 or less.

Establishes the 2017 Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday

The legislation creates a three-day “disaster preparedness” sales tax holiday from June 2-4, 2017, for disaster preparedness supplies. Tax-free items include: flashlights and lanterns costing $20 or less; radios and tarps costing $50 or less; coolers and first-aid kits costing $30 or less; and, generators costing $750 or less, among others.

Creates a Sales Tax Exemption for Feminine Hygiene Products

The bill creates a permanent sales tax exemption for essential hygienic products for women. Currently, Florida law imposes a sales tax on luxury items such as cosmetics and toiletries, while providing tax exemptions for medical products used to prevent or treat illness. HB 7109 makes it clear that feminine hygiene products are not luxury items in the same category as toiletries, but rather a necessity for women’s overall health, hygiene, and well-being. Several states including: Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, and the District of Columbia currently exempt these items.

Legislation to exempt the sales tax on feminine hygiene products was originally filed as Senate Bill 176 by Senator Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples).

“This common sense legislation will result in a tax savings for women all over the state who purchase these necessary products,” said Senator Passidomo. “Through this bill, Florida stands to join other states that currently exempt these items.”

Reduces Business Rent Tax

House Bill 7109 permanently lowers the sales tax charged on commercial leases. The state currently levies a six percent tax on the total rent or license fee charged for renting any real property. Residences are exempt from this tax, and Florida is currently the only state in the country to impose this type of tax on businesses. The bill permanently lowers the rate from 6 percent to 5.8 percent.

During the 2017 Legislative Session, the Senate Committee on Finance and Tax passed Senate Bill 378 by Senate President Pro Tempore Anitere Flores (R-Miami, Monroe) to lower the business rent tax.

“Cutting this business tax will help the small, local businesses in our communities that lease property,” said President Pro Tempore Flores. “This legislation is a great step towards reducing and hopefully one day eliminating this burdensome tax on business.”

Increased Homestead Property Tax Exemption

During the 2017 Legislative Session, the House and Senate also passed House Joint Resolution (HJR) 7105, Increased Homestead Property Tax Exemption, sponsored by former Senate President Tom Lee (R-Thonotosassa). The joint resolution proposes an amendment to the Florida Constitution to provide an additional homestead exemption of $25,000. The amendment will take effect January 1, 2019, if approved by Florida voters. Homestead property owners will receive an exemption from ad valorem taxes, except levies by school districts, for the assessed valuation greater than $100,000 and up to $125,000.

Background: As Florida continues to recover from the Great Recession, the Legislature has prioritized broad-based tax relief for Florida’s families and businesses.

2016: House Bill 7099 provided broad-based tax relief for Florida families and businesses by permanently eliminating the sales tax exemption for machinery and manufacturing equipment, establishing a three-day Back-To-School Sales Tax Holiday, and reducing local property tax millage rates.

2015: House Bill 33-A permanently decreased the communication services tax (CST) on Floridians’ phones and television services, instituted a 10-day Back-To-School Sales Tax Holiday, and among other tax relief measures, eliminated the sales tax charged to returning service members and their families who have purchased a vehicle overseas.

2014: Senate Bill 156, by President Negron, provided a nearly $400 million reduction in vehicle registration fees.  The legislation reduced certain annual fees paid to register a motor vehicle to the amount paid prior to 2009. Annual vehicle registration fees were raised during the height of Florida’s economic decline in 2009, a year when state general revenue collections had declined more than 22 percent since their high in 2005-2006. In addition to other tax relief measures passed in 2014, this legislation provided fee relief to every Floridian who registers a car or truck.

 

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