TALLAHASSEE (AP) – Florida’s popular back-to-school sales tax holiday could last longer and cover more expensive items. Gov. Rick Scott on Friday called for extending the late summer sales tax holiday from its current three days to 10 days – which means it would cover two weekends.
The Republican governor also wants to increase the amount of clothing items that can be purchased tax-free. Last year clothes costing $75 or less were exempt, but Scott wants to increase the amount to $100. State legislators will consider the proposal during the upcoming session that starts in March.
“By creating this holiday, we’ll help Floridians keep more of their money, while helping prepare every Florida student for another school year,” Scott said in a statement.
Scott also wants to let Floridians buy computers tax-free again this year, but the tax break would only apply to computers worth less than $750. That would mean some types of computers – such as iMacs and Macbooks made by Apple – would not qualify for the tax break. Last year was the first time Florida exempted computers during the sales tax holiday. Florida’s sales tax is 6 cents on the dollar.
The state created the first back-to-school tax holiday in 1998 and over the years legislators have tinkered with it. They have added school supplies to the list while also adding, then taking away, books. They also changed the length of the sales tax holiday depending on the financial impact. The Scott administration estimates that this year’s proposal would cost $60 million.
The last time the tax holiday lasted 10 days was back in 2007. It’s been three days long the last four years. The tax holiday is backed by retailers who like it because it usually results in added traffic to their stores during the late summer. But some groups have been critical of them. The Tax Foundation, a national research group, contends they are “political gimmicks” and that states should just cut the sales tax rate year-round.