Preparing for the Sales Tax Holiday

We are very pleased that our work with the Florida Legislature ultimately included provisions for a Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday during the 2017 session. This sales tax holiday will encourage Floridians to stock up on the supplies they need to be prepared for the hurricane season and other potential disasters.

This holiday is coming up VERY SOON! The bill is currently waiting for Governor Scott’s signature to make it official, but we wanted all of our members to be well aware of the details of the holiday so that you can prepare and make the most of this event in your stores. We have reached out to the Department of Revenue to inquire when we can expect to receive the TIP sheet on this event. In the meantime, here are the details that you may need to get ready.

When is the Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday?
12:01 a.m. on June 2, 2017, through 11:59 p.m. on June 4, 2017

What items fall under the sales tax holiday?
During the period of time listed above, sales tax should not be collected on the following items:

  • 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 self-contained first-aid kit selling for $30 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.

Does everyone who sells these items have to participate?
The tax exemptions do not apply to sales of the above items that take place in theme parks or entertainment complexes, lodging establishments, or airports. Every other retailer must provide the sales tax exemptions on the items above during the designated time period.

When we receive further details from the Department of Revenue, we will send it out immediately. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Published in Media Relations

For Immediate Release: May 1, 2017
CONTACT: James Miller, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (850)701-3015

TALLAHASSEE, FL – Below is a quote from FRF President & CEO R. Scott Shalley regarding the legislature's recent decision NOT to fund the Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday:

"The Florida Retail Federation (FRF) applauds Legislative leaders for their work on the 2017 tax package. We are, however, concerned to learn that the Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday has been omitted from the current proposal.

The entire State of Florida was affected by hurricanes in 2016. This Tax Holiday provides an extra incentive to consumers to ensure that Floridians are prepared and protected from dangerous storms. Proper preparation saves money and lives. We strongly encourage legislative leaders to reconsider this decision and include the Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday in their final tax package.”

ABOUT THE FLORIDA RETAIL FEDERATION
Founded in 1937, the Florida Retail Federation is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year as 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.

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Today, Governor Rick Scott announced during the “Fighting for Florida’s Future” Tax Cut Tour that he is proposing $618 million in tax cuts to help Florida families and small businesses, and ensure taxes are cut for Florida’s future generations. These tax cuts will encourage job creators to add more jobs and build opportunities now and in the future.

"Governor Scott's 'Fighting for Florida's Future' tax package includes a number of cuts which will significantly support Florida's retailers, including a reduction in the business rent tax, cutting the business tax and including an expanded back-to-school sales tax holiday among others," said FRF President & CEO Randy Miller. "FRF is excited about what the Governor's tax cut package will mean for growing Sunshine State businesses, creating new jobs for Florida families and ensuring our state remains competitive."

Governor Scott said, “While Florida’s economy has made great strides over the past six years, we have to continue to fight for Florida’s future and ensure our children and grandchildren have the opportunity to succeed in our great state. We know one of the best ways to do that is to keep cutting taxes, and even though we have already cut more than $6.5 billion in taxes, we can do more. That is why I am fighting for Florida families and our future generations by recommending to cut taxes by $618 million this year.

“When we cut taxes, it helps businesses create jobs – jobs that ultimately help the poorest, most disadvantaged families in our state. As I travel the state, I have been humbled by the stories of single parents, young students, new citizens and countless other Floridians who have shared with me how much of a difference a job has made in their life and in the lives of their families. These incredible stories are why we are fighting to secure a bright future for Florida, and cutting taxes will help make our state the top location for job creators to invest in for generations to come. I made a promise to keep fighting for jobs until my very last day as Governor, and I ask the Legislature to join me in fighting for the future of our students, our small businesses, our veterans and our families by cutting $618 million in taxes this year.”

Governor Scott’s “Fighting for Florida’s Future” tax cut package includes:

  • Decreasing the Tax on Business Rents by $454 Million – Florida is the only state that has a tax on commercial leases which unfairly targets small businesses. Governor Scott is proposing to reduce the tax on commercial leases by 25 percent in 2018, saving Florida businesses $454 million a year. Sales Tax Holidays to Save Families $98 Million – Governor Scott is proposing four sales tax holidays which will save Florida families an estimated $98 million in the upcoming fiscal year. These sales tax holidays include:
    • $72 million from a 10-day back-to-school sales tax holiday;
    • $7 million from a nine-day disaster preparedness sales tax holiday;
    • $18.4 million from a three-day veteran’s sales tax holiday; and
    • $500,000 from a one-day camping and fishing sales tax holiday.
  • Providing a One-Year Sales Tax Exemption on College Textbooks to Save Students $48 Million – Governor Scott is proposing to exempt the purchase of college textbooks from the sales tax for the 2017-18 academic year. The prices of college textbooks have increased significantly, often exceeding $100 per book. Exempting college textbooks from the sales tax is expected to save Florida students $48 million.
  • Cutting the Business Tax to Save Job Creators $15 Million – Governor Scott is proposing to exempt 22.5 percent of businesses from having to pay income taxes by increasing the corporate tax exemption from $50,000 to $75,000. Eliminating this tax will provide annual savings of $15 million and help more small businesses hire additional workers. This proposal will eliminate these taxes for more than 80 percent of Florida’s businesses. This exemption was increased from $5,000 to $25,000 in 2011 and $50,000 in 2012.
  • Exempting School Book Fairs from the Sales Tax to Save Families and Students $3 Million – Governor Scott is proposing to exempt the purchases of books at school book fairs from the sales tax, saving Florida families $3 million each year.

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Published in Media Relations

For Immediate Release: August 1, 2016
CONTACT: James Miller, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (850)701-3015

Retailers once again expecting big crowds this year as parents, students and business professionals take advantage of tax free shopping

TALLAHASSEE, FL – The Florida Retail Federation (FRF), the state’s premier trade association representing retailers for over 75 years, reminds Florida families, consumers and its 270,000 retailers that the popular annual back-to-school shopping season takes place this weekend, August 5-7. This annual tax free weekend allows Sunshine State families to save on supplies and clothes to prepare their children and themselves for the upcoming year. Nationally, the average family is expected to spend $673.57 on apparel and accessories, shoes and school supplies, up from last year’s $630.36. Nationally, sales for this back-to-school shopping weekend are expected to reach $75 billion, up from $68 billion last year.

“The back-to-school sales tax holiday remains one of the most popular shopping periods of the year in Florida with students, parents and business professionals looking forward to saving money on the clothes and items they need for school or work,” said FRF President/CEO Randy Miller. “We’re excited about what the weekend will bring in terms of increased sales for businesses and the important savings for consumers.”

The holiday means big savings for shoppers and big business for retailers, which has become the second largest shopping weekend after Black Friday. As part of the holiday, shoppers don’t have to pay sales tax on back-to-school items including clothing and shoes priced at $60 or less, and school supplies less than $15 per item. For a complete listing of all eligible items, please click HERE.

This year’s back-to-school sales tax holiday allows eligible businesses to OPT OUT of participating when less than five percent (5%) of their gross sales of tangible personal property during calendar year 2015 were sales of items that would be exempt during the tax holiday period. Qualified businesses had until August 1 to notify the Department of Revenue that they were opting out and must post a notice at each business location stating their choice not to participate in the Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday.

K-12 Spending
According to FRF’s partners at the National Retail Federation’s recent survey, families with children in grades K-12 plan to spend an average $673.57 on apparel and accessories, electronics, shoes and school supplies, up from last year’s $630.36 for a total of $27.3 billion, according to the survey. That’s an increase of 9.6 percent from last year’s $24.9 billion and compares with a total growth of 54.8 percent over the past 10 years.

The numbers follow a pattern in which spending often increases one year as families stock up on supplies only to drop off the next as they get a second year out of longer-lasting items like backpacks or computers. Spending then increases in the third year once children outgrow clothing or items need to be replaced.

According to the survey, K-12 consumers plan to spend $9.54 billion on clothing (purchased by 95 percent), $8.27 billion on electronics such as computers or calculators (57 percent), $5.12 billion on shoes (94 percent) and $4.37 billion on school supplies such as notebooks, folders, pencils, backpacks and lunchboxes (96 percent). Parents say they will spend an average $235.39 on clothing, $204.06 on electronics, $126.35 on shoes and $107.76 on school supplies.

While discount stores continue to be the choice of the largest share of shoppers at 61 percent, the number is at its lowest level in the survey’s history. But 46 percent of parents said they would shop online, a dramatic jump from last year’s 36 percent. The vast majority of online shoppers plan to take advantage of free shipping (89 percent of those surveyed) and conveniences like buy online, pick up in store (54 percent).

Bigger Kids, Bigger Bills
College students and families with children in college plan to spend an average of $888.71, according to the survey. That’s down slightly from $899.18 last year, but total spending is expected to be up at $48.5 billion compared with $43.1 billion last year due to an increase of consumers shopping for back-to-college.

The survey found college consumers plan to spend $11.54 billion on electronics (purchased by 50 percent), $7.49 billion on clothing (70 percent), $6.23 billion on dorm furnishings (43 percent), $5.78 billion on food items (69 percent), $4.26 billion on personal care items (72 percent), $3.84 billion on shoes (67 percent), $3.53 billion on school supplies (81 percent), $3.14 billion on gift cards (36 percent) and $2.7 billion on branded collegiate gear (49 percent). Spending on electronics will average $211.33, apparel and accessories $137.29, dorm furnishings $114.21, food $105.88, personal care items $78.03, shoes $70.39, school supplies $64.64, gift cards $57.54 and branded gear $49.41.

Discount stores still account for the largest share of college shopping, visited by 44 percent of consumers, but the number is at its lowest level in the survey’s history. Only 34 percent will visit a college bookstore, also a new low. Online shopping is the choice of 38 percent of shoppers, down from 39 percent last year and a peak of 45 percent two years ago.

The survey of 6,809 consumers asked about both back-to-school and back-to-college plans was conducted June 30-July 6 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.

ABOUT THE FLORIDA RETAIL FEDERATION
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.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL RETAIL FEDERATION
As the world's largest retail trade association and the voice of retail worldwide, the National Retail Federation's global membership includes retailers of all sizes, formats and channels of distribution as well as chain restaurants and industry partners from the U.S. and more than 45 countries abroad. In the U.S., NRF represents the breadth and diversity of an industry with more than 1.6 million American companies that employ nearly 25 million workers and generated 2010 sales of $2.4 trillion. www.nrf.com.

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Published in Media Relations

The Florida Retail Federation is excited about the upcoming BACK-TO-SCHOOL SALES TAX HOLIDAY taking place August 5-7 and the increased sales it bring for Florida retailers. We wanted to remind retailers of one of the changes to this year’s sales tax holiday: that eligible businesses are allowed to OPT OUT of participating when less than five percent (5%) of their gross sales of tangible personal property during calendar year 2015 were sales of items that would be exempt during the tax holiday period. Businesses with multiple locations must include the gross sales of all their Florida locations in this calculation. For businesses that were not in operation during the 2015 calendar year, this option is available when less than five percent (5%) of the business’s inventory of items for sale are items that would be tax exempt during the tax holiday.

Qualifying businesses choosing not to participate in the tax holiday must send a written notice to the Department by August 1, 2016. The notice must be on business letterhead and state that the business meets the qualifications stated above and has chosen not to participate in the tax holiday. The notice must be signed by an individual authorized to sign on behalf of the business. Businesses with multiple locations may send a single notice stating that all their Florida locations will not participate in the tax holiday.

Mail the letter to: Account Management MS 1-5730
Sales Tax Holiday
Florida Department of Revenue
5050 W Tennessee St
Tallahassee FL 32399-0160

You must also EMAIL a scanned signed letter to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or FAX the letter to: 850.922.0859.

Qualified businesses that do not participate in the tax holiday must post a notice at each business location stating their choice not to participate in the Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday. The notice must be posted in a conspicuous location at the place of business. The following is a suggested notice:

In accordance with Chapter 2016-220, Laws of Florida, (Name of Business) has chosen not to participate in the Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday, August 5-7, 2016. For questions, please contact (name of contact person at business) at (contact telephone number or email address).

[Signature of Authorized Individual]
[Title]

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