Lawmakers Give Tax Breaks on Back-to-School Shopping, Hurricane Preparedness

You could save big bucks on back-to-school shopping and stocking up on hurricane supplies this summer. Florida lawmakers are poised to pass the annual tax break on clothing, books, and other school items. For the first time you'll also get a break on things like flashlights, generators and coolers to get ready for hurricane season.

Every year, families look forward to Florida's annual sales tax holiday on back-to-school shopping.

Beth Sullivan was glad to hear lawmakers are again including it in this year's state budget.

“It helps me out tremendously. We actually plan around that. I have three teenage boys and one on the cusp at home so we actually plan around that and make it kind of a family trip.”

Under this year's bill, you won't have to pay sales tax on books, clothing, even handbags and diaper bags costing $50 or less during the last nine days in July. You also get a break on school supplies like pencils and notebooks costing less than $10.

For the first time this year, lawmakers also want to give you a tax break on hurricane supplies like generators and flashlight batteries during the first 12 days in June.

House sponsor Ron Greenstein hopes his bill will encourage families and stores to plan ahead.

“It allows Home Depot and Lowe's and all the other stores that we're dealing with to stock their shelves for this time and hopefully have sales for people, so we'll have people prepare.”

One item you will not get a tax break on is plywood. There was some complication with the paperwork involved, so plywood will not be included in this year's tax break.

But supporters want to add plywood and even more supplies next year. They'd like to see the hurricane supplies sales tax holiday become an annual event like the one back-to-school shopping.

If the governor signs the legislation, the hurricane supplies sales tax holiday will run from June 1 to the 12th, and the back-to-school shopping holiday will run from July 23 to the 31st. The two sales tax holidays would cost the state a little over $40 million.