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3-Day School “Tax Holiday” Part of $129 Million Tax-Cut Package Nearing Approval

| March 11, 2016

florida legislature

Last day. (Florida Memory)

State lawmakers are poised to approve a tax-cut package on the final day of the legislative session.

The Senate on Thursday set up for a vote a compromise $129.1 million package (HB 7099), which includes making permanent a sales-tax exemption on manufacturing equipment, reducing an aviation fuel tax and holding a three-day tax “holiday” for back-to-school shoppers.

Barring something totally unexpected, the Senate and House will approve the package Friday, the last day of the 60-day legislative session. The chambers also will approve a negotiated $82.3 billion budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Before rolling the tax bill forward Thursday, the Senate rejected a proposal by Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, to prohibit awarding already-offered tax credits for most film and television productions that fail to meet pre-set requirements by Dec. 31, 2017.

“It could save us potentially from $40 (million) to $50 million by not paying for projects that were done four or five years ago and they never submitted their paperwork,” Detert said.

Detert, a proponent of efforts to create a new film-incentives program, said her proposed amendment was intended to save money on a “bad program.”

However, Senate Finance and Taxation Chairwoman Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, said Detert’s proposal “is not part of the agreed upon package” with the House.

The package is far short of the $1 billion in tax cuts that Gov. Rick Scott requested. The trimmed-down package is the result, at least in part, of lawmakers responding to state economists reducing revenue forecasts for the next couple of years.

The overall package will be promoted as a $400 million savings by being teamed with about $290 million that lawmakers are putting forward to hold down local property taxes that would otherwise go into the state’s school-funding formula. The issue involves part of the formula known as “required local effort.”

For many Floridians, the biggest part of the package will be a sales-tax “holiday” for back-to-school shoppers. However, the holiday will only last for three days in August, rather than the 10 days proposed by Scott and the House.

In addition to the shorter period, the amount of savings available to shoppers will be lower than in earlier proposals. For example, shoppers will be able to avoid paying sales taxes on clothes that cost $60 or less, down from an earlier $100 proposal. Also, computer purchases won’t be included in the holiday.

The bill revises how taxes are calculated on alcohol and tobacco sales for cruise ships within Florida waters, on pear cider, and on an excise tax on aviation fuel, which is a discount for most carriers.

The measure also exempts sales taxes on food and drinks sold by veterans’ organizations and phases out — over three years — a sales tax on asphalt used for government projects.

–Jim Turner, News Service of Florida

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