Computers are back on the list of tax-exempt items during this weekend’s annual back-to-school sales tax holiday.
Last year, computers didn’t make the list, which Florida lawmakers dictate annually when approving the tax-free shopping weekend.
From Aug. 2-6 ,shoppers pay zero state and local option taxes on clothes and shoes ($60 or less per item), school supplies ($15 or less per item) and computers for non-commercial use ($1,000 or less per item), according to the Florida Department of Revenue.
A shopper in Kissimmee could save up to $75 in sales tax on a $1,000 computer. However, if the selling price exceeds $1,000, tax is due on the entire selling price, according to the department. The same is true for the other items on the list.
Florida’s sales tax is 6 percent, but the rate in Osceola County is 7.5 percent because of a 1.5 percent local-option tax -- 1.0 for local infrastructure and 0.5 for school construction.
Counties and municipalities can generate additional revenue by getting voter approval to raise the local-option sales tax. The rates in Orange and Polk counties is 6.5 and 7, respectively.
Osceola voters in May rejected raising the rate to 8.5 percent to improve local roads and alleviate congestion. Osceola’s maximum potential surtax rate is capped at 9 percent, according to the Florida Legislature’s Office of Economic & Demographic Research.
Critics of the tax-free shopping holiday periods contend they don’t significantly help low-income shoppers or promote economic growth.
Citing a study by the Federal Reserve from 2017, Tax Foundation said tax-free shopping periods – happening in 16 states this year – simply shift the timing of purchases and account for price increases by retailers.
“If a state must offer a ‘holiday’ from its tax system, it is an implicit recognition that the state’s tax system is uncompetitive. If policymakers want to save money for consumers, they should cut the sales tax rate year-round,” Jannelle Cammenga wrote July 25 for Tax Foundation, one of the nation’s oldest tax policy research institutions.
On the other hand, the Florida Retail Federation, a trade association, touts the holiday as a boon to both consumers and retailers and said it’s the state’s second-busiest shopping event after Black Friday.
The holiday has been recognized in 18 out of the 22 years since it first began in 1998. This year will mark the 10th year in a row it has occurred, according to the federation.
Nationally, the average family with K-12 students will spend $696.70 and those with college students will spend $976.78, according to an annual survey conducted by the National Retail Federation. That equates to $52.25 and $73.25 in tax savings, respectively.
The Legislature also approved some unlikely items this year including tuxedos, cleats, bras and diapers (adult and baby, cloth or disposable.) View the entire list at FloridaRevenue.com/BacktoSchool.