DeSantis Signs Annual Tax Cut Package

TALLAHASSEE — Emphasizing a sales-tax “holiday” for hurricane preparedness supplies, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday signed an annual package of tax breaks.

The package (HB 7073), passed by lawmakers during the legislative session that ended in March, is expected overall to trim state and local revenue by $439.6 million during the upcoming 2024-2025 fiscal year.

Lawmakers included a series of sales-tax holidays in the package, including two periods when shoppers will be able to stock up on hurricane supplies without paying sales taxes. The first preparedness holiday will start June 1, at the start of the hurricane season, while the second will be from Aug. 24 to Sept. 6, just before the peak of the storm season.

During a bill-signing event in Cape Canaveral, DeSantis said “knock on wood” Florida won’t be hit by hurricanes this season, but weather experts have predicted the Atlantic Ocean will be highly active over the next six months.

“They say ‘busy.’ And they always say that. We don’t know. I mean, you just don’t know. You have to prepare,” DeSantis said. “You could have a busy hurricane season and nothing could hit Florida. You could have a low hurricane season and have one hit us. So, really, whether it’s high or low, it’s really a question about (being) prepared.”

Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie said people need to focus on their personal storm plans and being prepared.

“We know that there are many, many predictions for a very active hurricane season. I don’t want any of you to get focused on that,” Guthrie said. “I want you to get focused on your family … that’s all I need you to do. Let my team worry about the big hurricane season, multiple disasters that may or may not come our way. That’s what we’re there for.”

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During the hurricane-preparedness holidays, shoppers will be able to avoid paying sales taxes on items ranging from packages of batteries packets and portable radios that sell for $50 or less to portable generators that sell for $3,000 or less.

Retailers have long supported sales-tax holidays to help drive shoppers to stores. Florida Retail Federation President and CEO Scott Shalley praised the tax package.

“When Florida shoppers stock up at local businesses during these tax-free holidays, it’s an added boost to the Sunshine State economy,” Shalley said in a prepared statement Tuesday.

The package also includes a tax holiday from July 29 to Aug. 11 on back-to-school items; a holiday throughout July on recreation-related purchases; and a holiday around Labor Day on tools and other work supplies.

The holidays are expected to save shoppers a total of $289 million, with the back-to-school discount period topping the list at $97.2 million. The hurricane-preparedness periods are expected to cut state and local revenue by $80.2 million.

Other parts of the package include such things as providing breaks for certain railroads companies and corporations that employ people with disabilities.

DeSantis put a $1.5 billion tag on the overall package by calculating potential savings beyond the 2024-2025 fiscal year and including a $450 million cut to revenue through the revival of a program that provides bill credits to frequent toll-road users. The toll program was included in the state budget.

The program, which started April 1, provides 50 percent credits to motorists who make 35 or more toll-road trips a month.

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