TALLAHASSEE — Floridians facing economic pressure from inflation will get to avoid paying a portion of sales taxes on events and outdoor gear starting Friday.
Through July 7, people will get sales-tax breaks on tickets for concerts, movies, ballgames and museum visits, as well as on things such as fishing rods, bicycle helmets, grills and kayaks.
The Legislature called it “Freedom Week,” and it’s wrapped around the Fourth of July for the second consecutive year.
Lawmakers and Gov. Ron DeSantis included it in an annual tax package (HB 7071) that also offers other tax holidays and sales-tax exemptions. The state has already held a disaster preparedness tax holiday around the June 1 start of hurricane season and will hold a back-to-school tax holiday later in the summer.
“With the pressures of inflation, and the concerns that are out there, we want to see people continue to support our local retailers,” said Scott Shalley, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation, which has long lobbied for tax holidays.
At the tax package bill signing on May 6, DeSantis described the break as a way that “families can afford a fun summer.”
But not everyone is so enamored with tax holidays.
The Center for State Tax Policy at the Tax Foundation, based in Washington, DC, questions the economic benefits of tax holidays, pointing to studies showing consumers shift the timing of purchases and that in some cases retailers have raised prices during the discount periods.
“States are sitting on surpluses at the same time many taxpayers are struggling under the burden of high inflation,” Jared Walczak, the foundation’s vice president of state projects, told The New York Times this month. . ””
Lawmakers approved the first freedom week in 2021, in part to entice people who were holding back on going out because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last year, the Legislature’s Office of Economic & Demographic Research estimated freedom week would cut state revenue by $ 42 million and local revenue by $ 12.7 million.
This year, the projections are a $ 54.5 million reduction in state revenue and a $ 16.1 million reduction in local revenue.
In addition to freedom week, other tax breaks will take effect Friday. For the next year, sales taxes will be lifted on children’s diapers and Energy Star washing machines, clothes dryers, water heaters and refrigerators.
Also starting Friday, a two-year tax break will start on impact-resistant windows, doors and garage doors.
Here are some of the purchases exempt from sales taxes during Freedom Week:
–Tickets purchased for live music, live sports, plays, movies, fairs and festivals, for events through Dec. 31.
–Entry to museums and state parks, including annual passes.
–The first $ 5 for fishing bait and tackle.
–The first $ 15 for sunscreen and insect repellant.
–The first $ 25 for swimming snorkels, goggles and masks.
–The first $ 30 for fishing tackle boxes, water bottles, camping lanterns and flashlights.
–The first $ 35 for recreational pool tubes, pool floats, inflatable chairs and pool toys.
–The first $ 50 for sleeping bags, portable hammocks, camping stoves, collapsible camping chairs and bicycle helmets.
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–The first $ 75 for life jackets, coolers, paddles, oars, fishing rods and reels.
–The first $ 100 for sunglasses.
–The first $ 150 for water skis, wakeboards and kneeboards.
–The first $ 200 for tents and binoculars.
–The first $ 250 for bicycles and grills.
–The first $ 300 for paddle boards and surfboards.
–The first $ 500 for canoes and kayaks.