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Florida sales tax holiday starts Friday. Here’s what you need to know.

Tips for shopping at Ellenton Premium Outlets during tax free weekend

Sarah Ozgun, the director of marketing and business development at the Ellenton Premium Outlets, shares tips to make the most of the tax free weekend in Florida now through Aug. 7. Video by Meghin Delaney
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Sarah Ozgun, the director of marketing and business development at the Ellenton Premium Outlets, shares tips to make the most of the tax free weekend in Florida now through Aug. 7. Video by Meghin Delaney

This year, Manatee County shoppers face a shorter sales-tax holiday and an earlier school start date — just three days for tax-free shopping before classes already start Wednesday.

The tax-free weekend begins at midnight Friday and ends on Sunday. Per House Bill 7099, the holiday was shortened, businesses can choose not to participate, and fewer items are available for tax-free shopping. Last year’s tax-free holiday stretched over 10 days.

James Miller, spokesman for the Florida Retail Federation, said last year was the exception to the rule.

“We were just very fortunate that the [Florida] Legislature gave us 10 days last year,” Miller told the Miami Herald. “We feel that sales will still be high this year.”

During the holiday, businesses do not charge Florida’s 6 percent sales tax. Depending on local municipalities’ tax policies, the rate can be as high as 7.5 percent.

At least five businesses have opted out of the sales tax holiday, though the Department of Revenue could not disclose specific retailers.

“Taxpayer information is confidential by law,” said Department of Revenue spokeswoman Renee Watters.

Those businesses are required to post a notice at each location to inform consumers their store is not participating in the sales tax holiday. The notice must be placed in a “conspicuous” place, according to the tax information publication.

Restrictions are also tighter this year. Only clothing priced $60 or less is tax-free, while last year’s limit was $100. And for the first time since 2012, computers and computer-related accessories are not included. The price caps are the state’s tightest since 2010 and the lowest of any of the 17 states participating in the sales tax holiday.

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$674amount National Retail Federation estimates families will spend on back-to-school shopping

Americans are on a “stock up” cycle rather than a “make do” cycle with back-to-school spending, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics. Total spending on kindergarten through college back-to-school preparation is expected to reach $75.8 billion this year, up from $68 billion last year. The NRF estimates each family will spend $674 at mostly discount and department stores.

Another survey, conducted by Propeller Insights on behalf of online shopping rebate company Ebates, found that parents and teens expect to spend the most money on name brand clothing followed by clothing essentials and technology. In the same survey, teens disclosed they always feel forced to buy rulers and protractors, but never use them.

Janelle O’Dea: 941-745-7095, @jayohday

Miami Herald reporter Chabeli Herrera contributed to this report.

What’s included in the sales tax holiday

The holiday applies to:

  • Clothing, footwear and certain accessories selling for $60 or less per item (including handbags, backpacks, fanny packs, diaper bags)
  • Certain school supplies selling for $15 or less per item

The holiday does not apply to:

  • Any item of clothing selling for more than $60
  • Briefcases, suitcases or other garment bags
  • Watches, watchbands, jewelry, umbrellas and handkerchiefs
  • Skis, swim fins, roller blades or skates
  • Any school supply item selling for more than $15
  • Books that are not otherwise exempt
  • Personal computers and computer-related accessories
  • Rentals or leases of any of these items
  • Sales of clothing or school supplies in a theme park, entertainment complex, public lodging establishment or airport

Source: Florida Department of Revenue

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