TALLAHASSEE — Senators started moving forward Monday with a sales-tax holiday for back-to-school shoppers, but the proposal is a week shorter than requested by Gov. Rick Scott.
The sponsor of the bill, however, hasn’t closed the book on extending the proposed discount time frame from three days to 10 days.
The Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee on Monday unanimously supported the measure (SB 792) by Sen. Anitere Flores that would lift sales taxes on clothes, school supplies and electronics for three days at the start of August.
The Miami Republican said a big factor in the eventual length of the sales-tax holiday period will be updated revenue estimates Wednesday from state economists.
“I’m hopeful that there is going to be some more money for us to be able to invest in this,” Flores said after the committee meeting. “To me, the 10 days (for a sales-tax holiday) is more important because the 10 days encompasses two weekends.”
In December, the state economists, formally known as the Revenue Estimating Conference, projected lawmakers would have a surplus of about $1 billion to work with as they craft a spending plan for the next budget year.
Scott later proposed a 10-day holiday period that his office estimated would save taxpayers about $60 million.
The Revenue Estimating Conference projected a three-day school sales-tax holiday would reduce state and local government revenue by $39 million. The economic estimate factored in individual pieces of clothing worth up to $100 being sales-tax free.
Under Flores’ bill, during the discount period, no sales tax would be collected on purchases of clothing that costs $75 or less, school supplies that cost $15 or less, and personal computers and related accessories for non-commercial use that costs $750 or less.
Flores said the clothing total will also depend upon the revenue projection.
The House version (HB 1015) sponsored by Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole, includes a 10-day tax-free period starting Aug. 1. It would give a tax break on clothes that cost $75 or less.
Flores’ proposal must still get through the Senate Finance and Tax Subcommittee and the Appropriations Committee.
Macy’s, Associated Industries of Florida and the Florida Retail Federation expressed their support for the Senate bill on Monday. Retailers are expected to offer additional deals to highlight the discount period and draw people to buy items that will continue to be taxed.
The back-to-school tax holiday has ranged from three to nine days since lawmakers introduced it in 1998. The discount wasn’t provided during the recession in 2008 and 2009 and has been set at three days the past four years.