Tax breaks on gas, back-to-school items and storm supplies are part of DeSantis' budget proposal
The tax break on gas would last for five months beginning on July 1. It would still require approval from the Florida Legisture.
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday pitched $1.156 billion in tax breaks for next fiscal year — on such things as gasoline, back-to-school items and storm supplies — as he released a $99.7 billion budget proposal.
The biggest potential tax break, which DeSantis had previously announced, would suspend state gas taxes for five months starting July 1, which is the beginning of the fiscal year.
DeSantis told reporters at the Capitol that providing a 25-cent-a-gallon break on gas taxes will “be a cushion and a buffer against the rising gas prices that we've seen over the last year.”
DeSantis said the plan won’t hinder transportation projects funded through fuel taxes. He would use $1 billion in federal stimulus money to make up for the lost gas tax revenues.
Lawmakers will consider the tax proposals during the 2022 legislative session, which will start Jan. 11. Bills to hold sales-tax “holidays” have already been filed.
DeSantis wants to hold a 10-day tax holiday in which back-to-school shoppers would be able to avoid paying taxes on clothing, school supplies and personal computers. He also is calling for a 10-day tax holiday on hurricane supplies and a seven-day “Freedom Week” tax holiday.
Rep. Anna Eskamani, an Orlando Democrat who serves on the House Ways & Means Committee, said Democrats would support proposals that “eliminate and reduce” regressive sales taxes. But in a conference call with reporters, she questioned the effectiveness of tax holidays and said there are other ways to provide more tax relief, “especially since Florida's largest corporations continue to benefit from reduced corporate income tax rate.”
“They (corporations) have a $600 million refund coming to them in 2022,” Eskamani said. “And, of course, Gov. Ron DeSantis likes to talk a big game when it comes to his toughness on corporations. But, the reality is that he does what corporations tell him to do.”
The governor’s office said the “Freedom Week” proposal would provide sales-tax breaks on such things as event and museum tickets and purchases of sunglasses, kayaks and canoes.
The school holiday period, expected to be held in August, would provide discounts on clothes that cost up to $60, school supplies that cost up to $15 and the first $1,000 on the prices of personal computers.
The governor’s office estimates the “Freedom Week” would save shoppers $57.4 million, the school holiday would save $72.9 million, and a disaster-preparation tax holiday before hurricane season would save $11 million.
The governor also wants lawmakers to permanently eliminate a $25 fee charged for obtaining Florida identification cards from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, a move projected to reduce state revenue by $14.7 million.
In past years, lawmakers have often lumped together a series of tax breaks in a package that accompanies the final state budget.