Florida Politics | By Renzo Downey | May 5, 2022
Tax cuts are aplenty in Florida, which has continued raking in cash.
Lawmakers have officially delivered Gov. Ron DeSantis this year’s record tax package, which will save Floridians an estimated $1.1 billion.
The tax package (HB 7071) includes major first-time initiatives, like reducing the state and county gas tax for the month of October for an estimated $200 million in driver savings. The package also includes a new week-long “Tool Time” sales tax holiday on supplies for skilled trades — worth an estimated $12.4 million.
Speaking in Clearwater on Wednesday, DeSantis told reporters he would make an announcement on the tax plan on Friday, adding that he might sign the bill next week.
This coming fiscal year’s predicted $1.1 billion in savings for taxpayers overshadows the $196.3 million in relief estimated in the current fiscal year, which expires June 30. The Legislature passed the bill, originally assembled by the House Ways and Means Committee and Chairman Bobby Payne, unanimously in March.
“(It’s the) highest ever we’ve ever done, and we’re happy to do that,” DeSantis said.
Florida has been able to fund the record relief because the state has outpaced revenue estimates for 17 consecutive months despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Florida has plenty of cushion in its budget, DeSantis said, but he warned that the nation could fall into a recession because of President Joe Biden‘s pandemic relief efforts.
“If the economy slows down because of what they’re doing in Washington, I just take some money, I plug in a hole. We will not miss a beat,” the Republican Governor said.
DeSantis had asked lawmakers to make the gas tax initiative a $1 billion program lasting five months. However, the Republican-led Legislature only approved one month of relief. They narrowed their options to May and October, because those months have the fewest number of out-of-state visitors, and ultimately chose October.
Democrats criticized Republicans for the move, accusing them of timing the relief just ahead of the 2022 midterms. Floridians deserve relief sooner because of high gas prices, they contended.
The “Tool Time” holiday would waive sales taxes on tools for skilled trades like mechanics, carpenters, plumbers and electricians. The holiday would run from Sept. 3-9, coinciding with Labor Day on Sept. 5.
Other more traditional sales tax holidays would return this year, like the back-to-school and disaster preparedness holidays. However, those holidays are being extended to two weeks. The school supplies holiday will run from July 25 to Aug. 7 and spare an estimated $100.1 million in sales taxes while the disaster prep holiday will run from May 28 to June 10 and waive an estimated $25.6 million.
Freedom Week will also return after the inaugural celebration last year. The tax holiday would again run during the first seven days of July, exempting an estimated $70.6 million in sales tax on outdoor gear and activities.
There’s also a two-year break for impact-resistant windows, doors and garage doors; one-year exemptions on diapers and clothing for infants and toddlers; a one-year exemption on ENERGY STAR appliances; a three-month exemption this summer on children’s books; and a reduction in the mobile home tax rate from 6% to 3%.
Tickets for the Daytona 500, Formula One races and World Cup qualification matches also will be exempted from sales taxes.
Properties in and around the site of the collapse of the Champlain Towers condo building in Surfside also will receive a property tax abatement.
Lawmakers also included tax relief on diapers, a longtime ask of Democrats that even earned DeSantis’ appreciation.
The Legislature has not yet delivered the Governor its $112.1 billion budget proposal for the 2022-23 fiscal year.
DeSantis has until May 20 to sign the tax package.