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President Office — Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 11, 2018

CONTACT: Katie Betta, (850) 487-5229


Senate Passes Broad-Based Tax Relief Package Focused on Hurricane Recovery

Back-To-School Sales Tax Holiday, Lower Business Rent Tax, Tax Relief for Hurricane Preparation and Recovery

Tallahassee —

The Florida Senate today passed House Bill 7087, Taxation. The legislation, sponsored in the Senate by Senator Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland), Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance and Tax, will deliver broad-based tax relief to families and businesses across the state, with a focus on tax relief for those Floridians recovering from the severe storms that impacted Florida during the 2017 Hurricane Season. In total, the bill provides $168.6 million in tax relief, consisting of $71.2 million in recurring tax cuts and $97.4 million in one-year tax cuts.

 

“Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature have worked together for the last several years to reduce the tax burden facing Florida families and businesses in a broad-based and meaningful way. This good bill furthers that commitment,” said Senate President Joe Negron (R-Stuart). “In particular, again this year the tax relief package includes a Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday that offers an important tax savings for students and parents preparing for the new school year.”

 

“Our 2018 Tax Relief Package includes targeted tax relief that promotes ongoing recovery from the recent hurricanes that devastated our agriculture community,” said Senator Stargel. “Additionally, this package offers Florida families a tax savings when they purchase critical supplies in advance of the upcoming hurricane season. I am also pleased to see the Legislature take another step to reduce the business rent tax, which helps the small, local businesses in our communities that lease property.”

 

Establishes the 2018 Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday

The legislation creates a seven-day “disaster preparedness” sales tax holiday from June 1 to June 7, 2018, for disaster preparedness supplies. Tax-free items include: flashlights and lanterns costing $20 or less; radios and tarps costing $50 or less; coolers costing $30 or less; and, generators costing $750 or less, among others. 

 

Creates Tax Exemptions for Hurricane Recovery

The legislation creates several exemptions related to hurricane response, preparedness and recovery including:

  • Sales tax exemptions for farms damaged by 2017 hurricanes for building materials used to repair nonresidential farm buildings and farm fencing.
  • Refund of taxes on fuel used for agricultural shipments post Hurricane Irma.
  • Citrus processing and packing equipment not being used will be assessed at the salvage value for the 2018 property tax.
  • Agricultural property taken out of production can retain an agricultural classification for property tax purposes for five years.
  • Residential homestead property damaged by a natural disaster is eligible for a refund of taxes paid.
  • Documentary stamp tax exemption for emergency loans.
  • Sales tax exemption for generators purchased for a nursing home or assisted living facility.

 

Establishes the 2018 Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday

The legislation creates a three-day “back-to-school” sales tax holiday from August 3 to August 5, 2018, for clothing, footwear, and backpacks costing $60 or less, and school supplies costing less than $15.

 

Reduces Business Rent Tax

The legislation permanently lowers the sales tax charged on commercial leases. In 2017, the Legislature lowered the six percent tax on the total rent or license fee charged for renting any real property from 6 percent to 5.8 percent. Florida remains the only state in the country to impose this type of tax on businesses. House Bill 7087 further reduces the business rent tax from 5.8 percent to 5.7 percent.

 

Constitutional Amendment Requiring Supermajority Vote for Tax Increases

The House and Senate passed House Joint Resolution (HJR) 7001, Supermajority Vote for State Taxes or Fees. The legislation proposes an amendment to Florida’s Constitution to require that a state tax or fee imposed, authorized, or raised by the legislature, be approved by two-thirds of the membership of each house of the Legislature. The amendment proposed in HJR 7001 will take effect on January 8, 2019, if approved by sixty percent of the voters.

 

Background: As Florida continues to recover from the Great Recession, the Legislature has prioritized broad-based tax relief for Florida’s families and businesses.

 

2017: House Bill 7109 established Back-to-School and Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holidays, created a sales tax exemption for feminine hygiene products, and reduced the business rent tax, while the state budget reduced local property tax rates. The Legislature also passed HJR 7105, Increased Homestead Property Tax Exemption, which 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.

 

2016: House Bill 7099 permanently eliminated the sales tax for machinery and manufacturing equipment, and established a Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday, while the state budget reduced local property tax rates.

 

2015: House Bill 33-A permanently decreased the communication services tax (CST) on Floridians’ phones and television services, instituted a Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday, and among other tax relief measures, eliminated the sales tax charged to returning service members and their families who purchased a vehicle overseas.

 

2014: House Bill 5601 established Back-to-School and Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holidays; created permanent sales tax exemptions for children’s car seats, booster seats, and bicycle helmets; and provided a nearly $400 million reduction in vehicle registration fees.  The legislation reduced certain annual fees paid to register a motor vehicle to the amount paid prior to 2009. In addition to other tax relief measures passed in 2014, this legislation provided annual fee relief to every Floridian who registers a car or truck.