Florida Tax Package Includes ‘Holidays,’ Insurance Breaks

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Senate on Thursday rolled out a wide-ranging tax package that includes offering sales-tax “holidays” and modest discounts on property-insurance policies.

The tax package, which would trim state and local revenue by $439.6 million in the 2024-2025 fiscal year, is a companion to a proposed $117.46 billion budget that lawmakers are expected to pass Friday. The 60-day legislative session is scheduled to end Friday, and the fiscal year will begin July 1.

“We have some very good items in this tax package,” Senate Finance and Tax Chairman Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, said.

In addition to the tax holidays and insurance discount, the tax package includes such things as breaks for railroads and corporations that employ people with disabilities.

The package, which was amended onto a House bill (HB 7073), doesn’t include a House proposal to further reduce a commercial-lease tax that businesses have long sought to eliminate. The tax went from 5.5 percent to 4.5 percent last year and is slated to drop to 2 percent in June. The House wanted to reduce it to 1.25 percent for a year.

The tax package was affected by a decision Sunday by budget leaders to bring back a bill-credit program for frequent toll-road users and to set aside $162 million as part of expenses related to a controversial 2018 transit tax in Hillsborough County that was ruled unconstitutional. The toll-credit program will cut state revenue by about $450 million. Those issues are included in the budget, rather than the tax package.

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The toll-credit program, which was in place in 2023, would begin again April 1 and provide 50 percent credits to motorists who make 35 or more toll-road trips a month.

The Senate and House are expected to approve the tax package Friday. It includes a series of sales-tax holidays in which consumers can buy items without paying sales taxes.

For example, it includes a pair of 14-day tax holidays for disaster-preparedness supplies around the June 1 start of hurricane season and near the mid-September peak of the season. Also, it would include a back-to-school tax holiday from July 29 to Aug. 11 for purchases of such things as clothes, school supplies and personal computers.

Also, the package includes a one-month summer tax holiday on recreational purchases, ranging from buying camping gear to tickets for concerts and sporting events. In addition, it includes what has been dubbed a “tool time” tax holiday around Labor Day for purchasing tools and other work supplies.

The four “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 package also would provide insurance tax credits that would lead to 1.75 percent savings on residential property-insurance premiums. Ingoglia said average savings are projected at $60 per household, rising to $75 for residents who also have flood coverage.

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“So, if you have a bigger home, you’re paying more in policy, you’ll have a larger savings,” Ingoglia said.

The package also would provide corporate-income tax credits of $1,000 for each employee with disabilities, which is expected to total $5 million.

Also, for example, it would revise a break offered in the 2022-2023 fiscal year to Class II and Class III “short line” freight railroads. They could get credits against corporate income taxes equal to 50 percent of investments in maintaining or improving tracks and based on the total miles of track.

The state has two Class II lines: Florida East Coast Railway, with 351 miles, and the Alabama Gulf Coast Railway, running north from Pensacola, according to House staff analysis. Florida also has less than a dozen Class III rail operations covering 819 miles.

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