State Politics

'Back to School' sales tax holiday nears fruition

MANATEE — It’s not very often that the querulous state House of Representatives passes a bill unanimously, but that’s what happened earlier this week when the body considered a “Back to School” sales tax holiday for this summer.

The bipartisan measure, House Bill 483, passed unanimously 115-0 Tuesday.

It calls for a one-time, three-day sales tax holiday for clothing and other school supplies purchased from Aug. 13 to 15, according to the House Majority Office.

The holiday would save shoppers $21.3 million in sales tax revenue that would otherwise go to the state, according to a staff analysis of the bill.

“It is one of those rare bills; it’s just a common sense bill,” said state Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, whose district includes parts of Manatee County.

“If you’re asking people to pay increased surcharges and taxes and fees to help balance the budget, why not find some way to help give them some of the money back, to help relieve their financial burdens, if only for a moment? he said.

“The sales tax holiday boosts the economy, and provides relief to taxpayers, and is just a good thing to do.”

Rouson gave the measure good odds in the Senate, too, where two bills on the subject are under consideration.

Sales tax would be waived on items of $50 or less each, including books, clothing, wallets or bags, including handbags, backpacks, fanny packs, and diaper bags, but excluding briefcases, suitcases and other garment bags, according to the bill.

It expands the school supply list to include items of $10 or less each, among other items, pens, pencils, notebooks, notebook paper, rulers, glue, binders, lunch boxes, construction paper, markers and folders, the bill said.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7031.