Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday signed a bill temporarily establishing several statewide tax-free periods on items like back-to-school products and storm supplies.
While the tax-free periods are an annual legislative tradition in Florida, this year’s bill includes, for the first time, a so-called “Freedom Week” from July 1 to 7, when the state will drop taxes on some recreational products and tickets to museums and events.
“You look around the country, we’re a free state, many of these states are not free states, unfortunately,” DeSantis, a Republican, said at a press conference announcing the bill signing.
“So the legislature believed, and they really deserve credit for this idea, that to celebrate both our economic and recreational freedom that we enjoy here in the Sunshine State, this package will include the first-ever Freedom Week,” the governor continued. “We’re proud of being a free state. We’re proud of being open and we want taxpayers to be able to benefit if they’re participating in all these things.”
The tax holidays will save Floridians some $168 million. The shortfall will be more than compensated by an estimated $1 billion in new taxes the state will collect on online purchases.
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 storm-preparedness items, like flashlights, radios, gas tanks, batteries, generators, and coolers.
In late July and early August, Floridians won’t have to pay sales taxes for school supplies, some clothing, and the first $1,000 for a computer.
The bill also includes a permanent sales tax exemption for independent living purchases for seniors, including on items like bed transfer handles, bed rails, grab bars, and shower seats.
DeSantis said the new exemption “is a way to redouble our commitment to improving our seniors’ quality of life because decreasing the cost of living is an important way to improve the lives of those on fixed incomes.”
DeSantis used the press conference to continue his criticism of states that used harsh lockdown measures during the pandemic caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the coronavirus. The Florida governor believes lockdowns were a “huge mistake” and, despite intense pressure, refused to shut down the state during the fall and winter waves of the pandemic.
His strategy, referred to by some experts as “focused protection,” has been vindicated. Many of the states which imposed lockdowns have recently begun to lift those orders, purportedly in response to guidance from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention. Full vaccinated people don’t have to wear masks indoors, outdoors, and most other settings, the agency said earlier this month.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.