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Gas, diapers, essential items will be tax-free in Florida

Published: May. 6, 2022 at 11:26 AM EDT
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From gas to diapers to hurricane supplies, dozens of expensive and essential items will be tax-free in Florida over the next few months.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday signed the "largest tax relief in the history of the state of Florida," a $1.2 billion plan that's designed to provide relief for Floridians from the highest level of inflation in 40 years.

One of the biggest benefits will be during the entire month of October, when gas will be tax-free. DeSantis said drivers will save around $.25 per gallon.

In addition, children's diapers, as well as clothing and shoes for kids who are five and under will be tax-free for an entire year from July 1 until June 30, 2023. Children's books will be tax-free for three months from May 14 through August 14.

"Families are gonna be able to save for things that really matter for them," DeSantis said Friday during a news conference in Ocala.

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According to AAA, the national average for a price of regular gas on Friday is $4.28, while Florida's average is $4.19.

"You look at the fuel, I have not seen it under $4 for a long time," DeSantis said. "You've not seen any real relief."

In addition to those tax breaks, DeSantis on Friday also announced a 14-day Back-To-School Sales Tax Holiday, which will run from July 25 until Aug. 7. During that time, the following items will be tax-free:

  • Clothing, footwear, and backpacks costing $100 or less
  • School supplies and learning aids costing $50 or less
  • Personal computers or computer-related accessories, including non-recreational software, costing $1,500 or less

A 14-day Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday will run from May 28 until June 10, with the following items, among others, tax-free during that time:

  • Flashlights and lanterns costing $40 or less
  • Radios costing $50 or less
  • Tarps costing $100 or less
  • Coolers costing $60 or less
  • Batteries costing $50 or less
  • Smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and carbon monoxide detectors costing $70 or less
  • Generators costing $1,000 or less

In addition, the Freedom Week Sales Tax Holiday will run from July 1 to 7, when the following items will be tax-free:

  • Tickets to movies and museums
  • Single admission or season tickets to theatre and dance performances
  • State park admission and annual passes
  • Use of fitness facilities
  • Tickets, memberships, and passes for use from July 1 to December 31

Finally, DeSantis on Friday announced the first-ever Skilled Worker Tools Sales Tax Holiday. From Sept. 3 to 9, the following tools used by skilled trade workers will be tax-free:

  • Certain hand and power tools
  • Work boots
  • Safety equipment
  • Shop lights
  • Toolboxes and belts
  • Plumbing and electrical equipment
  • Industry textbooks and codebooks

The legislation carries $1.2 billion in tax breaks over two years, which DeSantis said will cushion an uncertain economy.

"You have the inflation, now the Fed is going to keep raising interest rates and it's going to slow down the economy," DeSantis said. "So there are just a lot of storms on the horizon."

The Florida Senate Minority Leader calls the year-long tax holiday on diapers a longstanding priority that she wants to make permanent.

"One in three families suffer from diaper need," said Sen. Lauren Book, D-Senate Minority Leader. "This is going to go a long, long way towards keeping children and families safer and healthier."

"A one-year tax break on children's diapers is important, but it's it's not going to cover the cost of rent," said Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando.

Eskamani supports the changes but worries they’re too short and that retailers will exploit them by raising prices to offset benefits.

"There could have been a lot more done to help ensure that, for families that are struggling with an increase in rent, that they would have more money in their pocket," Eskamani said.

Those who study taxes, like the independent research firm Tax Foundation, are skeptical of tax holidays.

"Tax holidays are generally more political than economic solutions," said Jared Walczak, the vice president of state projects for the Tax Foundation. "More broader sales tax holidays, you see they shift some consumption around, but don’t really change what they purchase."

Either way, the tax breaks are coming. DeSantis' pen making it official, with many provisions taking effect on July 1.

And there is some concern that the gas tax holiday won’t work out as planned. It’s relying on American Rescue Fund to backfill the reduction, but some lawmakers don’t think the federal dollars can be used that way.

For more information about all the upcoming tax breaks, click here.

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