DeSantis touts ‘Freedom Week’ as he signs bill to OK 3 sales tax holidays for 2021

Starting July 1st everything from boating and camping to fishing and sports equipment will all be part of this new tax holiday.

Highlighting the addition of the “Freedom Week” sales tax holiday to the annual back-to-school and disaster preparedness sales tax holidays in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill Friday approving all three to give Florida taxpayers a break in 2021.

The tax holidays will keep some $168 million in savings in Floridian’s wallets.

The first of these holidays arrives next week during a 10-day period in which Floridians can prepare for the upcoming hurricane season without paying sales taxes on certain purchases.

The disaster-preparedness tax holiday will run from May 28 through June 6 and is expected to save shoppers $10.5 million in state and local sales taxes. Its timing is tied to the June 1 start of hurricane season.

During the period, shoppers will be able to avoid paying sales taxes on such things as reusable ice packs that cost $20 or less; portable radios, gas tanks and packages or batteries that cost $50 or less; non-electric food coolers that cost $60 or less; tarps that cost $100 or less; and portable generators that cost $1,000 or less.

“We’re anticipating it to be a relatively active season and Floridians should just understand that this is something that we may have to deal with,” DeSantis said.

It’s likely the “season” will start early again this year, with the first named storm of the year anticipated as early as Friday.

Starting July 1, there will be a new tax-free holiday called Freedom Week that includes boating, outdoor supplies, team sports gear, camping and fishing gear, including tents, sleeping bags, camp stoves and more.

State economists projected that the “Freedom Week” tax holiday will save $54.7 million for shoppers.

“I think this is really smart. I think it was really good. And I’m happy that we’re able to do this,” DeSantis said of the additional tax holiday.

During the week you can also buy tax-free tickets to sporting events, music events, movies, ballets, plays, music theaters, fairs and festivals for use before the end of 2021.

“My daughter loves fairs. We took her to the strawberry festival down in Plant City and the Clay County Fair in Northeast Florida, so she’s always asking me, ‘Daddy, I want to go back to the fair.’ So now we’ll save on our tickets I guess if we do that,” DeSantis quipped during a news conference Friday in Pensacola.

The Freedom Week sales tax exemption also applies to museum and state park admission, including annual passes, season tickets to theater events and gym memberships.

“We’re proud of being open. And we want taxpayers to be able to benefit if they’re participating in all these things,” DeSantis said. “No state has had more events than we’ve had over the past year.”

Among those events, DeSantis pointed out, was a full capacity indoor sporting event in Jacksonville with 15,000 fans packed into the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena for the Ultimate Fighting Championship 261 last month.

From July 31-Aug. 9 there will be a tax-free week to buy school supplies. During the period, shoppers can avoid paying sales taxes on clothes costing $60 or less, school supplies costing $15 or less and the first $1,000 of the price of personal computers.

Amid a host of other technical changes, the legislation also permanently removes the sales tax from independent-living items including bed rails, grab bars and shower seats.

A Florida House analysis estimated that all the exemptions will cost the state at least $100 million in tax revenue this year.

But the “tax holidays” DeSantis signed into law Friday are being offset by the taxes the state will now collect on online purchases. The state is expected to collect about $1 billion annually from online sales tax collection. Some of the early proceeds would be transferred to the state’s unemployment trust fund and would reduce unemployment taxes for businesses.

For more on what qualifies for the tax exemptions, click here. To read the full text of the legislation, click here.

The Associated Press and News Service of Florida contributed to this report.