Florida Lawmakers Complete 2017 Broad-Based Tax Relief Package

By  //  May 9, 2017

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Florida’s promised 2017 tax relief package, House Bill 7109, Taxation, passed the Senate at the 11th hour Monday, with Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland taking the lead role. (Sunshine State News Image)

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA (SunshineStateNews) – Florida’s promised 2017 tax relief package, House Bill 7109, Taxation, passed the Senate at the 11th hour Monday, with Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland taking the lead role.

This legislation, combined with provisions of Senate Bill 2500, the 2017-18 General Appropriations Act, and House Joint Resolution 7015, Increased Homestead Property Tax Exemption, “continues our commitment to reducing the tax burden facing Florida families and businesses in a broad-based and meaningful way,” said Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart.

“Sales tax holidays for school supplies and hurricane preparedness essentials provide savings for families across our state. Likewise, a permanent reduction in the business rent tax is an important step towards reducing and ultimately eliminating this onerous tax on business.”

Several components of HB 7109 are detailed by the Senate office here:

Establishes the 2017 Back-To-School Sales Tax Holiday

The legislation creates a three-day “back-to-school” sales tax holiday Aug. 4-6, 2017, for clothing and footwear costing $60 or less, school supplies costing less than $15, and for  a personal computer or personal computer-related accessories, including tablets, costing $750 or less.

Establishes the 2017 Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday

The legislation creates a three-day “disaster preparedness” sales tax holiday June 2-4, 2017, for disaster preparedness supplies. Tax-free items include flashlights and lanterns costing $20 or less; radios and tarps costing $50 or less; coolers and first-aid kits costing $30 or less; and, generators costing $750 or less, among others.

Creates a Sales Tax Exemption for Feminine Hygiene Products

The bill creates a permanent sales tax exemption for essential hygienic products for women. Currently, Florida law imposes a sales tax on luxury items such as cosmetics and toiletries, while providing tax exemptions for medical products used to prevent or treat illness. HB 7109 makes it clear that feminine hygiene products are not luxury items in the same category as toiletries, but rather a necessity for women’s overall health, hygiene, and well-being. Several states including Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, and the District of Columbia currently exempt these items.

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Legislation to exempt feminine hygiene products from sales tax was originally filed as House Bill 63, by Rep. Katie Edwards, D-Plantation as Senate Bill 176 by Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples.

Reduces Business Rent Tax

House Bill 7109 permanently lowers the sales tax charged on commercial leases from 6 percent to 5.8 percent. The state currently levies the tax on the total rent or license fee charged for renting any real property. Residences are exempt from this tax.  Florida is the only state in the country to impose this type of tax on businesses.

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Earlier this session, the Senate Committee on Finance and Tax passed Senate Bill 378, by Senate President Pro Tempore Anitere Flores, R-Miami, Monroe, to lower the business rent tax.

Creates $500 million in Property Tax Savings

SB 2500, the 2017-2018 General Appropriations Act, which wasn’t available for final passage until late Monday, appropriates unprecedented total funding for K-12 education, while reducing local millage rates, resulting in more than $500 million in tax savings for Florida’s families and businesses.

Increased Homestead Property Tax Exemption

House Joint Resolution (HJR) 7105, Increased Homestead Property Tax Exemption, sponsored by former Senate President Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, proposes an amendment to the Florida Constitution to provide an additional homestead exemption of $25,000. The amendment will take effect January 1, 2019, if approved by Florida voters. Homestead property owners will receive an exemption from ad valorem taxes, except levies by school districts, for the assessed valuation greater than $100,000 and up to $125,000.

Background: As Florida continues to recover from the Great Recession, the Legislature prioritized broad-based tax relief for Florida’s families and businesses.

2016: House Bill 7099 provided broad-based tax relief for Florida families and businesses by permanently eliminating the sales tax exemption for machinery and manufacturing equipment, establishing a three-day Back-To-School Sales Tax Holiday, and reducing local property tax millage rates.

2015: House Bill 33-A permanently decreased the communication services tax (CST) on Floridians’ phones and television services, instituted a 10-day Back-To-School Sales Tax Holiday, and among other tax relief measures, eliminated the sales tax charged to returning service members and their families who have purchased a vehicle overseas.

2014: Senate Bill 156, by President Negron, provided a nearly $400 million reduction in vehicle registration fees.  The legislation reduced certain annual fees paid to register a motor vehicle to the amount paid prior to 2009. Annual vehicle registration fees were raised during the height of Florida’s economic decline in 2009, a year when state general revenue collections had declined more than 22 percent since their high in 2005-2006. In addition to other tax relief measures passed in 2014, this legislation provided fee relief to every Floridian who registers a car or truck.

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