Senate committee buys into back-to-school 'tax holiday'


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A measure to again give Florida shoppers a 10-day "sales-tax holiday" on back-to-school items easily won support Monday in its first Senate committee.

The Commerce and Tourism Committee unanimously backed the measure (SB 198), which would allow shoppers next August to buy clothes, backpacks, school supplies, computers and other items without paying sales taxes.

Committee Chairwoman Nancy Detert, R-Venice, noted she has come around to support the sales tax holidays.

"It's the only way we can really see money going back to consumers," Detert said.

The length of the tax-free period would equal the 10 days set aside this past August, up from three-days in prior years.

The proposal, which has support from large business lobbies, including Associated Industries of Florida and the Florida Retail Federation, must still get through the Finance & Tax and Appropriations committees.

The measure, sponsored by Finance and Tax Chairwoman Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, is expected to eventually get mixed into a larger tax-cut package that will be pushed by Gov. Rick Scott.

State economists have projected the holiday, if approved, would save Floridians $61.4 million next year. Most of the revenue reduction would be felt at the state level, with local government revenue taking a $5.3 million hit.