Florida’s tax holiday goes digital in 2013

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In years past, Florida’s popular back-to-school sales tax holiday covered basics like paper, pencils and erasers. For 2013, the tax holiday, from August 2 through 4, now includes a few digital essentials used by today’s students.

The Florida Legislature upgraded this year’s tax holiday, adding digital tools like personal computers and accessories selling for up to $750. “Personal computers” are items and accessories purchased for noncommercial home or personal use. They include:

  • Electronic book readers
  • Laptops and desktops
  • Tablets and other hand-held devices
  • Keyboards and mice
  • Monitors (without TV tuners)
  • Modems and routers
  • Non-recreational software

Cellphones, video game consoles, digital media devices and other devices not used for data processing are not included in the sales tax holiday. As in previous tax holidays, shoes and clothing up to $75 and school supplies—pencils, pens, notebooks, erasers and other school items up to $15—will continue to be tax-free during the three-day weekend.

“Digital literacy is essential for our children, and we appreciate the work of all the legislative supporters of the sales tax holiday, “says Rick McAllister, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation, in a statement. The Federation was a strong advocate for the introduction of digital tools to the exemptions.

“By expanding the sales tax holiday to include computers and accessories,” McAllister adds, “Florida’s lawmakers are helping make these learning tools more affordable for families.”

According to a report by The Washington Economics Group (WEG), the 2010 back-to-school sales tax holiday translated to $7 million dollars in additional state tax revenue, over what would be without a tax holiday. In 2010, consumers purchased together taxable and tax-exempt items, increasing sales of taxable items by $115 million. Total purchases in August surpassed estimates by $289 million.  

The Florida lawmakers filing legislation enacting the 2013 sales tax holiday include Sen. Anitere Flores from Miami, Rep. Larry Ahern of St. Petersburg  and Rep. Ritch Workman from Melbourne.

Ultimately, the back-to-school sales tax holiday, including purchases of digital tools, passed the Legislature in SB 406 as part of an economic development package sponsored by Sen. Andy Gardiner of Orlando.

 

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.