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Florida Senate says no to Small Biz Saturday tax break

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Every smart shopper knows there’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

The National Federation of Independent Business Florida wants to tuck “Small Business Saturday” between those days and has been advancing a proposal that would give shoppers a tax break for shopping locally owned, independent businesses.

The tax holiday was in the House tax reduction package HB 33A, and economists predicted it would be a $40 million tax break between local and state taxes. The Senate–which had endorsed a similar proposal during the 2015 regular legislative session–nixed it, though, when it decided to extend its back-to-school sales tax holiday to 10 days.

The National Federation of Independent Business Florida cites estimates from American Express that shows cardholders spent $5.5 billion at small businesses in 2012 when it offered incentives to its cardholders. The tax holiday was a priority for the association, executive director Bill Herrle said.

“We were surprised by the Senate’s sudden change of heart on Small Business Saturday sales tax holiday. The proposal has broad bipartisan support in the Senate,” Herrle said in a text.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Tom Lee said the proposal seemed burdensome to administer and that the Senate was concerned that there could be some fraud.

“There were some implementation questions about how to execute such a plan and we just couldn’t figure out how to do it,” said Lee.

NFIB Florida was at odds with the Florida Senate on the use of Medicaid dollars for healthcare expansion. In March, Herrle urged the Senate to oppose expansion and was chided by Appropriations Committee Chairman state Sen. Rene Garcia.

Lee said that NFIB’s opposition to Obamacare and the Senate’s FHIX plan had “absolutely nothing” to do with eliminating the tax reduction from the relief bill.

“It never came up,” Lee said, adding that he wasn’t aware that “Small Business Saturday” was being promoted by NFIB. “I didn’t think about it or know that,” Lee said.

State Rep. Matt Gaetz, the architect of the House tax package, supports the tax break. “I liked it so much, I passed it twice,” he said, referring to the tax packages in the regular legislative session.

Gaetz said he wasn’t concerned about implementing the tax break and his budget even appropriated money to the Department of Revenue to get the word out on the tax relief.

Nevertheless, Gaetz said he expects the House to take the Senate tax package up and pass it as is. “I like everything that is in the tax package that passed,” he said.

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