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Sales Tax Holiday in Florida

2 min readBy: Justin Higginbottom

If switching parties wasn’t enough of a political gimmick, Charlie Christ has signed another misguided back-to-school sales taxA tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. holiday:

Back-to-school shopping just got a little less expensive.

After two years on hiatus, a sales-tax holiday for back-to-school items returned Wednesday when Gov. Charlie Crist signed the bill reviving it. To help make the point that the temporary tax break is good for consumers and retailers alike, Crist signed the law at Waterford Lakes Town Center in east Orange County.

The measure (HB 483) brings back the popular tax break for just three days this summer, from Aug. 13-15. Books, clothing and shoes that cost $50 or less and school supplies of $10 or less will be exempt from state and local sales taxA sales tax is levied on retail sales of goods and services and, ideally, should apply to all final consumption with few exemptions. Many governments exempt goods like groceries; base broadening, such as including groceries, could keep rates lower. A sales tax should exempt business-to-business transactions which, when taxed, cause tax pyramiding. es, generally 6.5 percent to 7 percent in Central Florida.

Tax Foundation economist Mark Robyn wrote about Florida’s sales tax holidays (as well as their movie production incentives which share similar problems) in “Florida’s Sales Tax Holiday and Film Tax Credit Proposals Will Not Deliver on Exaggerated Promises.” He explains that sales tax holidayA sales tax holiday is a period of time when selected goods are exempted from state (and sometimes local) sales taxes. Such holidays have become an annual event in many states, with exemptions for such targeted products as back-to-school supplies, clothing, computers, hurricane preparedness supplies, and more. s are unlikely to have meaningful effects on employment, increase tax complexity, and rather than stimulating demand simply shift purchasing time. He writes:

Sales tax holidays and film tax creditA tax credit is a provision that reduces a taxpayer’s final tax bill, dollar-for-dollar. A tax credit differs from deductions and exemptions, which reduce taxable income, rather than the taxpayer’s tax bill directly. s are the sort of ideas that lawmakers come up with when they try to micromanage a vast and complex economy…. Floridians should not settle for these political gimmicks. Instead of pandering to Hollywood or fooling parents into thinking they’re getting a great deal on school supplies, Florida lawmakers should take an approach of neutrality that treats all taxpayers the same and provides a low tax rate for all. If lawmakers want to provide real, valuable tax cuts they should reject these targeted and temporary tax cuts and enact lasting tax relief for all business and consumers. This “broad base, low rate” approach avoids favoring certain taxpayers at the expense of others and allows all taxpayers to enjoy the benefits of a lower tax burden, whether they are shooting films or selling flowers, buying shoes or a stroller.

More on sales tax holidays here.

More on movie production incentives here.

More on Florida here.