Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a nearly $200 million tax holiday package into law Friday at a Home Depot store in Pensacola.
The new law sets dates for three separate sales tax holidays for this summer for hurricane preparedness, back to school and a new sales tax holiday Florida leaders have dubbed “Freedom Week.”
DeSantis said the sales tax holidays will let people take advantage of everything reopening in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and touted his policies over other states that had tougher coronavirus restrictions.
“We’re proud of being a free state,” DeSantis said during the bill signing. “We’re proud of being open. And we want taxpayers to be able to benefit if they’re participating in all these things.”
The “Freedom Week” sales tax holiday runs during the week of July 4 and grants sales tax exemptions on outdoor activities, sports equipment, tickets to museums, state parks and live events, such as concerts or festivals.
DeSantis was joined at the bill signing in Pensacola by Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson.
“Our message to Floridians is very clear, and that is we want you to celebrate that freedom,” Sprowls said. “We know that this year, more than most, families have been cooped up. … We hope that people will go out, that they’ll buy grills, that they’ll go camping, that they’ll play sports, that they’ll go visit our state parks, and they’ll go outside and enjoy great and safe concert venues.”
The bill signing took place at a Home Depot in Pensacola as the first sales tax holiday is for hurricane preparedness week, which runs from May 28 to June 6.
Kevin Guthrie, the newly named director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, took to the stage to remind Floridians to take advantage of the tax holiday and prepare now for hurricane season, which officially starts June 1.
“This is the best time to get the items that you need for your family in the event of a storm,” Guthrie said. “The earlier you prepare, the better off you will be come June 1.”
The bill also includes an expanded back-to-school sales tax holiday that runs for 10 days from July 31 to Aug. 9 that allows people to avoid paying sales tax on clothes costing $60 or less, school supplies costing $15 or less, and the first $1,000 of the price of a personal computer.
While the bulk of the new law covers sales tax holidays, it also includes other items including a $5 million “Strong Families Tax Credit” for businesses that contribute to charitable organizations dedicated to serving families and children.
The bill also creates a tax credit program that offers businesses up to $10,000 a year to hire college interns, creates a fund of $17.5 million to clean up “brownfield” sites across the state and sets up a referendum for expanded property tax exemption for affordable housing in 2022.
Jim Little can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 850-208-9827.