Florida to have two sales tax holidays in 2019

Florida to have two sales tax holidays in 2019

Update 5.15.2019: Gov. DeSantis signed HB 7123. The sales tax holidays are a go.

The Florida Legislature has approved two sales tax holidays for 2019: a tax-free period for disaster preparedness supplies that will start at the end of May and a back-to-school tax-free period in August. They're still awaiting final approval from Governor Ron DeSantis, who included the sales tax holidays in his budget proposal.

Sales tax holiday for disaster-preparedness supplies

The following products will be exempt from Florida sales and use tax from 12:01 a.m. on May 31, 2019, through 11:59 p.m. on June 6, 2019:

  • AAA-cell, AA-cell, C-cell, D-cell, 6-volt, or 9-volt batteries, excluding automobile and boat batteries ($30 or less)
  • Gas or diesel fuel tanks ($25 or less)
  • Ground anchor systems or tie-down kits ($50 or less)
  • Non-electric food storage coolers ($30 or less)
  • Portable generators used to provide light or communications or to preserve food in the event of a power outage ($750 or less)
  • Portable self-powered light sources ($20 or less)
  • Portable self-powered radios, two-way radios, or weather-band radios ($50 or less)
  • Reusable ice such as ice packs ($10 or less)
  • Tarpaulins or other flexible waterproof sheeting ($50 or less)

Sales tax holiday for clothing, personal computers, and school supplies

The following items will be exempt from Florida sales tax from 12:01 a.m. on August 2, 2019, through 11:59 p.m. on August 4, 2019:

  • Clothing, wallets, or bags, including diaper bags, backpacks, fanny packs, and handbags (but excluding briefcases, suitcases, and other garment bags) with a sales price of $60 or less
  • The first $1,000 of the sales price of personal computers or personal computer-related accessories purchased for noncommercial home or personal use
  • School supplies with a sales price of $15 or less

As usual, with Florida sales tax holidays, the exemptions described above don’t apply to sales of otherwise qualifying products made within an airport, entertainment complex, or theme park. The tax-free periods are meant to benefit Floridians, not tourists.

Retailers that sell few qualifying items (e.g., the sales of these items comprise less than 5 percent of a retailer’s sales of tangible personal property in the prior calendar year) may choose not to participate in the back-to-school sales tax holiday provided they notify the Florida Department of Revenue of their election to collect sales tax by August 1, 2019.

That's about all the information House Bill 7123 offers. The Florida Department of Revenue will likely provide additional guidance for retailers in the coming weeks. 

Meanwhile, businesses that have an obligation to collect sales tax in the Sunshine State and sell qualifying products in Florida would be wise to start preparing, especially for the tax-free period scheduled to start the end of May. Although sales tax holidays provide tax relief to consumers, they complicate sales tax compliance for retailers.

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