Tax holiday law exempts purchases of school, hurricane, recreational supplies, tickets to cultural events

Gov. Ron DeSantis signs tax legislation, including exemptions for school and hurricane-prep supplies, on May 22, 2021, in Pensacola. Source: Screenshot/Florida Channel

Floridians will get a break on sales taxes for back-to-school and disaster-preparation purchases under legislation signed Friday by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The bill (HB 7061) also exempts portions of the sale tax on recreational expenses during the week surrounding July 4, including boating, fishing, camping, sporting, and general outdoors supplies.

The governor tied that last exemption to his decision not to extend closures of businesses to limit exposure to COVID-19, which he credits for Florida’s relatively healthy economy compared to states that imposed lengthy lockdowns.

“We’re a free state; many of these states are not free states, unfortunately,” he said.

DeSantis signed the bill into law during a news conference at a Home Depot store in Pensacola.

The back-to-school holiday will run from July 31 through Aug. 9. The tax exemption applies to purchases of $60 or less of clothing, footwear, and school bags. Additionally, the first $1,000 in computer and computer accessory purchases are exempt from tax.

The disaster-preparedness tax break applies from May 28 through June 6, timed to the beginning of hurricane season, and covers items including portable, self-powered lighting; self-powered radios; tarpaulins; fuel tanks; appliance batteries; portable electric generators and power banks; and nonelectric food coolers. Price limits apply to these purchases.

In addition to “Freedom Week” exemptions for sporting and outdoors equipment, the new law waives taxes on sales between July 1 and July 7 of tickets to live music performances and sporting events; ballet, play, or musical theater performances; museums or state parks; fairs, festivals, or cultural events, and access to physical fitness facilities through the end of the year.

Michael Moline
Michael Moline has covered politics and the legal system for more than 30 years. He is a former managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal and former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal. He began his career covering the Florida Capitol for United Press International. More recently, he wrote for Florida Politics.