Even Florida’s nearly traditional back-to-school sales-tax holiday is in recession.
In 2007, the sales-tax holiday stretched for 10 days, from Aug. 4 through Aug. 13. In 2006 it lasted from July 22 to July 30. This year it’ll be on for just three days–the weekend of Aug. 13-15.
It’s better than 2008 and 2009, when there were no tax-free days at all as tax revenue fell. It fell again this year, but was offset by some $5 billion in federal stimulus dollars, which the state used to plug its own deficits.
During the sales tax holiday, sales taxes will not be applied to books, clothing and footwear that cost $50 or less, as well as school supplies that cost $10 or less.
Keep in mind the following restrictions:
- The term “book” does not apply to newspapers, magazines, periodicals or audio books.
- Footwear does not mean skis, swim fins, roller blades, and skates, nor does “clothing” include watches, watchbands, jewelry, umbrellas, handkerchiefs, or sporting equipment.
- School supplies means the following: pens, pencils, erasers, crayons, notebooks, notebook filler paper, legal pads, binders, lunch boxes, construction paper, markers, folders, poster board, composition books, poster paper, scissors, cellophane tape, glue, paste, rulers, computer disks, protractors, compasses, and calculators.
- The sales-tax exemption does not apply to any items, including clothing or what may look like school supplies, in theme parks such as Disney and Universal. Nor does the sales tax exemption apply in any entertainment complex, any hotel or motel, or any airport.
Given past experiences with retailers, the Florida Department of Revenue felt compelled also to specify that scam artists need not bother. “Example 1: A pair of shoes normally sells for $80. The pair of shoes cannot be split up in order to sell each shoe for $40 to qualify for the exemption.”
“Example 2: A desk set consisting of a stapler and a pair of scissors is sold for a single price of $9.95. Although the scissors would qualify for the exemption if sold separately during the exemption period, the stapler would not qualify because it is not listed as a qualifying tax-exempt item. The full selling price of the stapler and scissors desk set is taxable.”
Here’s another catch for all of you enthusiasts of shopping by mail: “By law, shipping and handling charges are part of the sales price of an item, even if they are separately stated. If multiple items are shipped on a single invoice, and the shipping and handling charge is listed as a single cost for all items, the charge must be fairly assigned to each item on the invoice to determine if the total cost of each exempt item still qualifies it as tax exempt.”
You can see all the fine print here.
If you’re traveling, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee hold their tax-free weekend Aug. 6 to 8. Georgia canceled its tax-free days this year. Three bills were introduced in the Georgia General Assembly to continue the tax-free days. None made it because of the state’s budget crunch.