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Senate approves additional tax cuts with 2014 tax relief initiatives

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Yesterday, May 2, 2014, the Florida Senate approved House Bill 5601, Economic Development, advancing a number of tax relief measures. Tax relief advanced by the Florida Legislature during the 2014 Legislative Session now totals $500 million as outlined by Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) and Speaker Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel) in the joint Senate and House Work Plan 2014 Legislative Agenda.

“Many worthy tax and fee relief proposals were considered by the Senate this year and I am especially grateful to Senator Hukill and Senator Negron for their leadership in first advancing and now finalizing a significant and meaningful tax relief package that will keep more money in the pockets of hardworking Florida families for years to come,” said President Gaetz. “This final tax relief package represents input from many Senators and House members and as a result reduces a cross-section of the tax burden Floridians face.”

The centerpiece of the Florida Legislature’s 2014 tax relief package was Senate Bill 156, a $395 million reduction in vehicle registration fees signed into law by Governor Scott last month.

House Bill 5601 allocates the remaining $105 million available for tax relief. Highlights of the entire tax relief package are as follows:

  • $395 MILLION REDUCTION IN VEHICLE REGISTRATION FEES.
  • BACK TO SCHOOL SALES TAX HOLIDAY beginning August 1, 2014, and ending August 3, 2014. During the holiday, the following items are exempt from the state sales tax and county discretionary sales surtaxes: Clothing, footwear, wallets, and bags that cost $100 or less and school supplies that cost $15 or less per item. The first $750 of the sales price for personal computers and related accessories purchased for noncommercial home or personal use, including tablets, laptops, monitors, input devices, and non-recreational software.
  • HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS SALES TAX HOLIDAY beginning on May 31, 2014, and ending on June 8, 2014. During the holiday, the following items are exempt from the state sales tax and county discretionary sales surtaxes: Portable self-powered light sources selling for $20 or less, portable self-powered radio, two-way radio, or weather band radio selling for $50 or less, tarpaulins or other flexible waterproof sheeting selling for $50 or less, self-contained first-aid kits selling for $30 or less, ground anchor systems or tie-down kits selling for $50 or less, gas or diesel fuel tanks selling for $25 or less, packages of AA-cell, C-cell, D-cell, 6-volt, or 9-volt batteries, excluding automobile and boat batteries, selling for $30 or less, non-electric food storage coolers selling for $30 or less, aportable generator selling for $750 or less, reusable ice selling for $10 or less.
  • SALES TAX HOLIDAY FOR ENERGY EFFICIENT PRODUCTS beginning on September 19, 2014, and ending on September 21, 2014, for the first $1,500 of the sales price for a new ENERGY STAR product or WaterSense product.
  • CAR SEATS AND BOOSTER SEATS: Creates a permanent sales tax exemption for child restraint systems and booster seats for use in motor vehicles.
  • YOUTH BICYCLE HELMETS: Creates a permanent sales tax exemption for bicycle helmets marketed for use by youth.
  • MEAL PLANS: Creates a permanent sales tax exemption for college and university meal plans. (Meals purchased at K-12 institutions are already exempt from sales tax).
  • AFFORDABLE HOUSING: Supports affordable housing, including Habitat for Humanity, by maintaining the Community Contributions Tax Credit program and increasing the available tax credits.
  • PREPAID CELL PHONES: Clarifies that the tax applied to prepaid cell phones should be the state and local sales tax rather than higher state and local communications services taxes.

“The three-day Back to School Sales Tax Holiday provides meaningful savings for families across Florida preparing their children for the new school year, purchasing computer equipment for young adults going to college, and buying clothing or other supplies for recent graduates starting new jobs,” said President Gaetz.

“Government should encourage rather than hinder Floridians from preparing their homes and families for severe weather that threatens our state during hurricane season,” continued President Gaetz. “As such, our final tax relief package includes a nine-day Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday. The tax package promotes children’s safety by exempting car and booster seats as well as youth bicycle helmets from sales tax, and makes good on our commitment to keeping higher education affordable by exempting college meal plans from sales tax, just as we exempt meals purchased at our K-12 educational institutions.”

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