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Hurricane Preparation Tax Holiday Begins For Floridians

Hurricane Michael satellite image

It allows residents to purchase items such as portable radios and reusable ice packs tax-free.

Starting Friday, Floridians can purchase items to prepare for hurricane season tax-free.

The disaster-preparedness tax holiday will run through June 6 and is expected to save shoppers $10.5 million in state and local sales taxes. Its timing is tied to the June 1 start of hurricane season.

During the period, shoppers will be able to avoid paying sales taxes on such things as reusable ice packs that cost $20 or less; portable radios, gas tanks and packages or batteries that cost $50 or less; non-electric food coolers that cost $60 or less; tarps that cost $100 or less; and portable generators that cost $1,000 or less.

State Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie encouraged Floridians to take advantage of the period to stock up on supplies.

“When a storm is approaching your area, that is not the time to build your kit,” Guthrie said. “The time is now, starting next week during this sales tax holiday, to stock up on your critical supplies.”

Florida Retail Federation President Scott Shalley says the tax break will help Floridians and retailers as the state continues to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Many retailers have struggled. So, we encourage people to get out and support their local retailers," Shalley said. "That includes even if you shop online. If you shop online, shop local with somebody who has a local presence.”

It’s one of three tax-free holidays Gov. Ron DeSantis signed last week as part of a $196.3 million tax package.

State economists projected that the “Freedom Week” tax holiday, which will start July 1, will save $54.7 million for shoppers. During that week, people will be able to avoid paying sales taxes on tickets purchased for such things as live music, athletic contests, in-theater movies, cultural events and entrance to museums and state parks. Tickets could be purchased during the week for events that occur later in the year, including annual passes.

The holiday will also provide sales-tax exemptions for such outdoor equipment as tents, grills, bicycles, kayaks and fishing gear.

A 10-day holiday in August for back-to-school shoppers is expected to provide a $69.4 million tax break. During the period, shoppers can avoid paying sales taxes on clothes costing $60 or less, school supplies costing $15 or less and the first $1,000 of the price of personal computers.

The tax package includes numerous other issues, such as setting aside $17.5 million for taxpayers that clean up contaminated brownfields, changing a formula for distributing cigarette tax revenues to boost funding for the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and repealing an unused pool of state money that was approved in 2014 to help build and renovate professional sports stadiums.

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