As the Florida Legislature considers creating two disaster preparedness sales tax holidays, the Florida Association for Insurance Reform (FAIR) and industry leaders are urging that home hardening materials be added as part of the eligible items to be exempted.
“Home hardening is an essential part of stepping up preparation and being able to weather storms to reduce property damage and loss of life,” said Jay Neal, President and CEO of FAIR. “Providing a good and reasonable financial incentive for Floridians to take action steps to harden their homes could reduce our state’s losses in the next storm – and everyone would benefit from reduced insurance costs.”
The legislation – PCS/CS/SB 620 – provides for two 7-day sales tax holidays on a host of items related to disaster readiness, from batteries to generators. But the bill does not currently extend to items like impact-resistant windows/doors and hurricane straps, which could make Florida homes significantly better able to withstand a serious storm. FAIR research shows that for every $1 of investment in mitigation, Florida saves $4 or more in costs post-hurricane.
PGT Innovations President and CEO Jeff Jackson said a sales tax holiday for home hardening materials would also be a boon to Florida’s economy. PGT Innovations, a publicly traded company and Sarasota County’s largest private employer, is the nation’s leading manufacturer and supplier of high-quality impact-resistant windows and doors.
“People put off major purchases that could make their homes so much safer,” Jackson said. “A sales tax holiday could be just the thing to positively prompt Floridians to make smart investments in hardening their homes, instead of putting it off and crossing their fingers.”
Jackson praised the bill sponsor, Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, and co-sponsors, Sen. Greg Steube and Sen. Dana Young, for their leadership in sponsoring the hurricane preparedness sales tax holiday and said that extending it to home hardening materials would significantly enhance its positive impact for all Floridians.
Jackson said a flurry of new construction-related activity related to home hardening could put Floridians to work while making the state more disaster-resistant. “This idea could trigger a round of economic activity that benefits the state, Florida homeowners, and the economy,” said Jackson.
Companies like PGT Innovations – which houses PGT Windows & Doors, CGI Windows & Doors, and WinDoor – have pioneered innovations that make construction materials such as windows and doors much better able to withstand hurricane-force storms, which experts say are occurring more frequently. But many older homes – even homes built as recently as 5-10 years ago – don’t often already reflect the latest technology.
FAIR, which advocates for all Florida consumers to have affordable, quality property insurance coverage, fully supports the tax holiday for home hardening materials. Neal said Florida has positioned itself as a national leader in strengthening and holding the line on a unified statewide standard building code. Offering a sales tax holiday to promote home hardening would further establish Florida as a leader, making the state the most disaster-ready and best able to withstand a storm despite its natural geographic vulnerabilities.