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5-11-17

The Florida Senate passes broad-based tax relief package


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Back-To-School and Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holidays, Sales Tax Exemption for Feminine Hygiene Products, Lower Business Rent Tax


The Florida Senate today passed House Bill (HB) 7109, Taxation, by Senator Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland). This legislation, combined with provisions of Senate Bill 2500, the 2017-18 General Appropriations Act, and House Joint Resolution 7015, Increased Homestead Property Tax Exemption, will deliver broad-based tax relief to families and businesses across Florida.



“This tax relief package continues our commitment to reducing the tax burden facing Florida families and businesses in a broad-based and meaningful way,” said Senate President Joe Negron (R-Stuart). “Sales tax holidays for school supplies and hurricane preparedness essentials provide savings for families across our state. Likewise, a permanent reduction in the business rent tax is an important step towards reducing and ultimately eliminating this onerous tax on business.”



Several components of HB 7109 are detailed below. 



Establishes the 2017 Back-To-School Sales Tax Holiday


The legislation creates a three-day “back-to-school” sales tax holiday from August 4-6, 2017, for clothing and footwear costing $60 or less, school supplies costing less than $15, and for  a personal computer or personal computer-related accessories, including tablets, costing $750 or less.



Establishes the 2017 Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday


The legislation creates a three-day “disaster preparedness” sales tax holiday from June 2-4, 2017, for disaster preparedness supplies. Tax-free items include: flashlights and lanterns costing $20 or less; radios and tarps costing $50 or less; coolers and first-aid kits costing $30 or less; and, generators costing $750 or less, among others. 



Creates a Sales Tax Exemption for Feminine Hygiene Products


The bill creates a permanent sales tax exemption for essential hygienic products for women. Currently, Florida law imposes a sales tax on luxury items such as cosmetics and toiletries, while providing tax exemptions for medical products used to prevent or treat illness. HB 7109 makes it clear that feminine hygiene products are not luxury items in the same category as toiletries, but rather a necessity for women’s overall health, hygiene, and well-being. Several states including: Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, and the District of Columbia currently exempt these items. 



Legislation to exempt feminine hygiene products from sales tax was originally filed as Senate Bill 176 by Senator Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples), which passed the Committee on Appropriations earlier this session. 



 
Reduces Business Rent Tax


House Bill 7109 permanently lowers the sales tax charged on commercial leases from 6 percent to 5.8 percent. The state currently levies the tax on the total rent or license fee charged for renting any real property. Residences are exempt from this tax.  Florida is the only state in the country to impose this type of tax on businesses. 



Earlier this session, the Senate Committee on Finance and Tax passed Senate Bill 378, by Senate President Pro Tempore Anitere Flores (R-Miami, Monroe), to lower the business rent tax.



Creates $500 million in Property Tax Savings


SB 2500, the 2017-2018 General Appropriations Act, which will be available for final passage later today, appropriates unprecedented total funding for K-12 education, while reducing local millage rates, resulting in more than $500 million in tax savings for Florida’s families and businesses. 



Increased Homestead Property Tax Exemption


House Joint Resolution (HJR) 7105, Increased Homestead Property Tax Exemption, sponsored by former Senate President Tom Lee (R-Thonotosassa), proposes an amendment to the Florida Constitution to provide an additional homestead exemption of $25,000. The amendment will take effect January 1, 2019, if approved by Florida voters. Homestead property owners will receive an exemption from ad valorem taxes, except levies by school districts, for the assessed valuation greater than $100,000 and up to $125,000.