TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Charlie Crist said Monday that he wants to resurrect a back-to-school sales tax holiday, saying it would stimulate Florida’s stagnant economy.
Joined by two legislative leaders and retailers, the Republican governor rejected a suggestion that some might see the proposal as a political move in an election year.
“What we all agree on here today is that we need to reduce the tax burden on the backs of Florida families,” said Crist, who is bypassing re-election as governor to seek an open U.S. Senate seat.
“We’ve had a two-year hiatus, and it’s time to get back to basics and do the right thing,” Crist said.
Florida lawmakers last approved a sales tax holiday in 2007, when they signed off on a 10-day break in early August of that year from state and local sales taxes. Similar efforts the past two legislative sessions have been defeated as lawmakers scrambled to find money for programs they regarded as more valuable.
Florida Retail Federation President Rick McAllister estimated that a $44 million tax break for an 11-day sales tax holiday for parents getting their kids ready to get back to school would increase overall tax revenues by $118 million.
“The sales tax holiday doesn’t just concentrate spending that would have taken place anyway,” McAllister said. “It sparks additional spending that boosts the state’s critical retail sector, and that in turn increases demand, creates jobs and grows tax revenues.”
Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, who is sponsoring the proposal (SB 514) in the upper chamber said he is confident he has the votes to get the proposal through while Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami, was equally confident about a companion measure (HB 483) in the House.
“The economy will be well served,” Rivera said.
Florida lawmakers have approved a back-to-school tax holiday eight times since 1998.