FL consumers get more sales-tax holidays, but big businesses are the ones celebrating

Consumer savings from new sales-tax holidays will be dwarfed by price increases caused by new taxes on online sales. Credit: Getty Images

The Florida Legislature’s $101.5 billion budget, bolstered by billions in federal funding, threw some popular tidbits out for everyday consumers in the form of extended sales-tax holidays.

But it more than negated roughly $50 million in sales-tax savings for families by imposing $1 billion in new taxes on products bought online.

The traditional back-to-school tax holiday was extended to 10 days, from July 31 through Aug. 9. It voids sales taxes on clothes, backpacks, shoes, and school supplies, subject to various price caps topping out at $60. The most expensive tax-free item would be personal computers priced at $1,000 or less.

A springtime sales-tax holiday will void taxes on disaster-preparedness supplies, from batteries to generators, May 28 through June 7. The priciest item on that tax-free list is portable generators costing $1,000 or less.

A summertime sales-tax holiday July 1-7 will shave the taxes off tickets to live music events, sporting events, theaters, movie houses, and museums, as well as supplies used for fishing, camping, sports and other fun in the sun.

The sales-tax holidays would not apply to items bought in shops at theme parks or at airports. All those holidays were approved in a tax-package bill on Friday, the last day of the legislative session.

For consumers who buy items online, savings from sales-tax holidays will be dwarfed by higher prices for online purchases under separate legislation already signed into law on April 19.

Florida had long neglected to collect sales taxes on online purchases, but it will start collecting them now, bringing in an estimated $1 billion.

The $1 billion will come from consumers paying the taxes atop the normal price of their chosen goods, and that revenue is earmarked to backfill the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund.

Legislators chose to devote the revenue to that fund so that big businesses can avoid paying a stiff increase in employment taxes to replenish the fund, which was drawn down by unemployment claims during the coronavirus pandemic.