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Fla.’s Second Disaster-Prep, Tax-Free Holiday Starts

Common disaster-related purchases are tax-free through Sept. 8 as Fla. heads into its most active month for hurricanes and four storms drift in the Atlantic.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Retailers hope Floridians will stock up on storm supplies during a sales-tax “holiday,” particularly as the increasingly active hurricane season could bring a storm toward the state by the end of next week. While storms can make landfall at any time, September is considered the most likely month to do so.

The state’s second “disaster preparedness” tax holiday of the year started Saturday and continues through Sept. 8.

The tax holiday comes as the National Hurricane Center on Thursday monitored a weather disturbance expected to move into the northwestern Caribbean this weekend and the eastern Gulf of Mexico next week.

“Maybe in June, hurricanes weren’t so much on everybody’s mind. Clearly, the tropics have lit up over the past few weeks and people are concerned about hurricanes,” Florida Retail Federation President Scott Shalley said. “I think it (the tax holiday) is a great opportunity to get out, get prepared and save some money as we enter the heart of the hurricane season.”

This is the first year the state has held two disaster-preparedness tax holidays. The first period was from May 27 to June 9, around the June 1 start of the hurricane season. State economists have projected the two periods will save shoppers $143.8 million in sales taxes.

Florida lawmakers this spring passed a wide-ranging tax bill (HB 7063) that included a series of tax holidays. That included a three-month holiday, dubbed “Freedom Summer,” which has provided sales-tax exemptions on recreation and outdoor items and entertainment events. The Freedom Summer holiday ends Sept. 4.

Examples of the Freedom Summer tax-free items include children’s athletic equipment that costs $100 or less, kayaks that cost $500 or less and tickets to concerts and sporting events. State economists projected the Freedom Summer holiday would lead to $229.9 million in tax savings, but Shalley said more advertising might be needed if the holiday is revived in the future.

“We don’t have data back yet on the summer holiday, but I think it has fallen a little bit flat,” Shalley said. “We certainly have room for improvement with regard to getting information out there, educating the consumer and educating the retailer. It’s a super well-intended holiday. It has some great, expansive saving opportunities.”

Meanwhile, a seven-day “tool time” tax holiday will start Sept. 2 to coincide with the Labor Day weekend and offer sales-tax exemptions on a variety of goods, such as tools and work boots. The tool-time holiday is expected to result in $15.4 million in savings.

During the disaster-preparedness holiday, here are some examples of items that will be tax free:

  • Ice packs that cost $20 or less
  • Batteries that cost $50 or less
  • Non-electric food coolers that cost $60 or less
  • Carbon monoxide detectors that cost $70 or less
  • Tarpaulins that cost $100 or less
  • Portable generators that cost $3,000 or less

During the tool-time tax holiday – with its name borrowed from the 1990s sitcom “Home Improvement” – here are some examples of items that will be tax free:

  • Work gloves that cost $25 or less
  • Hand tools and safety glasses that cost $50 or less
  • Tool boxes that cost $75 or less
  • Tool belts and hard hats that cost $100 or less
  • Work boots that cost $175 or less
  • Power tools that cost $300 or less

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