Thanks to the efforts of our team at the Florida Retail Federation, the 2019 Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday was included in this year's state budget. It was passed by the Florida Legislature and recently signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis. This sales tax holiday begins Friday, August 2, and runs through Tuesday, August 6.

During this period, qualifying items will be exempt from tax including:

  • certain school supplies selling for $15 or less;
  • clothing, footwear, and certain accessories selling for $60 or less;
  • and computers and certain accessories selling for $1,000 or less, when purchased for noncommercial or personal use.

For more information and a list of qualifying items, please review the Department of Revenue's complete Tax Information Publication (TIP), as well as their Frequently Asked Questions. For your convenience, on their website, they've also provided digital downloads and social media posts for businesses interested in promoting and sharing information about the sales tax holiday.

For Immediate Release: May 28, 2019
CONTACT: James Miller This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (850)701-3015

From May 31-June 6, Floridians won’t have to pay sales tax on thousands of items to help them both during and after a disaster; Tarps, batteries, radios, and generators are some of the most popular supplies

TALLAHASSEE, FL – The Florida Retail Federation (FRF), the state’s premier trade association celebrating more than 80 years of supporting Florida’s retail industry, reminds consumers that May 31-June 6 is the state’s Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday. During this time period, shoppers will not have to pay sales tax on eligible items and supplies that can be used to prepare for and recover from natural disasters that hit the Sunshine State. Hurricane season starts June 1.

“With hurricane season here, this Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday comes at a great time by drawing attention to the need to be prepared for a storm and providing Florida families with millions in needed tax relief,” said FRF President/CEO R. Scott Shalley. “I want to thank Governor DeSantis for including this holiday is his original budget and our legislative leaders for their hard work this past session to ensure it was funded.”

The Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, May 31 and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, June 6. During the holiday, sales tax will not be collected on the following popular items (for a complete listing of these items and other information, please click here):

  • A portable self-powered light source selling for $20 or less.
  • A portable self-powered radio, two-way radio, or Weatherband radio selling for $50 or less.
  • A tarpaulin or other flexible waterproof sheeting selling for $50 or less.
  • A ground anchor system or tie-down kit selling for $50 or less.
  • A gas or diesel fuel tank selling for $25 or less.
  • A package of AA-cell, C-cell, D-cell, 6-volt, or 9-volt batteries, excluding automobile and boat batteries, selling for $30 or less.
  • A nonelectric food storage cooler selling for $30 or less.
  • A portable generator used to provide light or communications or preserve food in the event of a power outage selling for $750 or less.
  • Reusable ice selling for $10 or less.

Additional information regarding the 2019 Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday, including a list of qualifying items, promotional materials and FAQs, has been posted to the Department of Revenue’s website.

Founded in 1937, the Florida Retail Federation is the statewide trade association representing retailers -- the businesses that sell directly to consumers. Florida retailers provide three out of every four jobs in the state, pay more than $49 billion in wages annually, and collect and remit more than $20 billion in sales taxes for Florida’s government each year. In fact, more than three out of four of Florida’s budget dollars come from retail-related activity.


Tuesday, 07 May 2019 08:44

Record-Breaking Spending Expected for Mother's Day

Written by

For Immediate Release: May 6, 2019
CONTACT: James Miller, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (850)701-3015

Highest spending amount ever expected this year as families celebrate moms with gifts, jewelry, events, flowers andmore

TALLAHASSEE, FL - The Florida Retail Federation (FRF), the state’s premier trade association representing retailers for over 80 years, says record spending is expected for this Mother’s Day as per person spending should come close to $200. Total spending nationally is expected to exceed $25 billion, also a record.

“Mother’s Day has traditionally been one of the highest per person spending events, and this year is no different as we expect records to be broken both locally and nationally,” said FRF President & CEO R. Scott Shalley. “Floridians are excited to celebrate mothers, and we are eager to see how retailers respond to this record-setting demand for gifts, jewelry, flowers and more.”

Mother’s Day spending is expected to total a record $25 billion this year, up from $23.1 billion in 2018, according to FRF’s partners at the National Retail Federation’s recent survey. A total 84 percent of U.S. adults are expected to celebrate in honor of their mothers and other women in their lives.

While the number of people celebrating Mother’s Day is in line with last year's86 percent, those celebrating are expected to spend more at an average $196 compared with $180 in 2018. Consumers ages 35-44 are likely to spend the most at an average of $248, up from $224, and men are likely to spend more than women at $237 compared with $158.

Newer models of gift-giving including special outings and gift cards are growing, in addition to more traditional gifts including flowers, greeting cards, and jewelry. Increased spending on jewelry represents 31 percent of the expected increase over last year.

According to the survey, consumers plan to purchase the following for Mother’s Day:

Gift category

Percent planning to purchase

Expected average
per person spending*

Expected total spending*

Greeting card(s)



$843 million




$2.6 billion

Special outing



$4.6 billion

Gift card(s) & certificates(s)



$2.6 billion

Clothing or clothing accessories



$2.3 billion




$5.2 billion

Personal service



$2 billion

Housewares or gardening tools



$1.1 billion

Books or CDs



$544 million

Consumer electronics



$2.2 billion




$950 million

(* These are national numbers)

Many of those celebrating cited finding something unique (44 percent) as the most important factor when picking out a Mother’s Day gift, followed by one that creates a special memory (39 percent). More than 8 in 10 (81 percent) indicate they will look to retailers for gifting inspiration.

The Florida Retail Federation is the statewide trade association representing retailers -- the businesses that sell directly to consumers. Florida retailers provide one out of every five jobs in the state, pay more than $49 billion in wages annually, and collect and remit more than $20 billion in sales taxes for Florida’s government each year.

NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs — 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy.


A state Senate bill that would do just that has met with resistance.

As the legislative session winds down, several good ideas appear destined to fall short of the finish line. One of those good ideas: Requiring online retailers to collect sales taxes. It’s another missed opportunity to level the playing field.

For too long, only retailers with a physical presence in the state had to collect the tax. Their online-only counterparts didn’t. Talk about a competitive disadvantage. The set-up is obviously one-side, but many so-called pro-business legislators still don’t get it.

A tax package moving through the Florida Senate would end the unfairness. The legislation, SB 1112, requires nearly every online retailer to collect the state’s 6 percent sales tax, a move that would net the state about $700 million a year. The bill exempts online companies that sell less than 200 items or $100,000 worth of goods.

For years, U.S. Supreme Count opinions from the 1960s and 1990s prevented states from forcing retailers with no physical locations in the state to collect the tax. Doing so would interfere with interstate commerce, the court concluded. But pressure mounted as online giants such as Amazon captured ever-larger slices of the retail pie and states lost out on needed tax revenue. In 2000, online sales made up less than 2 percent of overall retail sales, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Last year, it was nearly 30 percent.

Floridians who made online purchases from out-of-state retailers were supposed to remit the sales tax directly to the state, but that wasn’t well known and very few people complied. Last year, the Supreme Court woke up to the new economic realities. In a 5-4 opinion, the court said states could require retailers without a physical presence to collect the tax. The change should have been welcome news in Florida, which doesn’t have an income tax and relies more heavily on sales tax revenue. Other states, including Georgia, Colorado and Illinois, already have gone ahead with plans to make online retailers collect the tax.

This isn’t a new tax. The Senate bill simply closes a loophole. Still, the bill, sponsored by Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, has met resistance from his fellow Republicans, who don’t want to look like they are raising taxes.

To his credit, Gruters has pushed back against that misconception and even included a list of tax cuts to offset the extra revenue. He favors slashing the sales tax on commercial rent payments from 5.7 percent to 4.2 percent, which would save business renters about $450 million a year. The bill would also create a 14-day sales tax holiday for disaster preparedness and supplies, and provide a tax cut to insurers that cover remote visits with doctors, known as “telehealth.”

Amazon finally began collecting and remitting the tax on many of its sales in 2014, as it began opening warehouses in Lakeland and other parts of the state. But other sites like Wayfair have resisted.

The time has come to restore free market principles. Fairness demands it. READ MORE

Tampa Bay Times Editorial

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