Putting Education Reform To The Test

Back-To-School Shoppers Get A Sales Tax Break


Malls around Florida are expected to be crowded this weekend.

Shoppers won’t have to pay taxes on certain items this weekend thanks to Florida’s “Back to School Sales Tax Holiday.” It runs Friday through Sunday.

The event is expected to bring a boost in state revenue.

Shoppers will find tax breaks on school supplies that cost up to $15 and clothing items that cost up to $75.

Stores tend to offer big bargains to coincide with the tax cut, and shoppers wind up spending money on taxable items, too.

“The state actually makes a little bit more money during the period even though there’s a tax break,” said Rick McAllister with the Florida Retail Federation. “It really does have a huge stimulus effect on spending.”

The Washington Economics Group found the sales tax holiday in 2010 generated $115 million more in taxable sales than the same full tax weekend the previous year. The end result was a $7 million net increase in tax revenues to the state in 2010 above what would have been collected without a tax break.

But other analysts argue sales tax holidays are poor policy and there is no net benefit.

The state’s tax free shopping holiday began more than a decade ago to coincide with families getting ready to send kids back to school.

The retail federation wants the event expanded to nine days, giving families two weekends to take advantage of the tax break.

The length of the tax holiday is up to Florida lawmakers, who have to approve it each year.

Among the long list of items that are tax-free:

  • Backpacks
  • Belts
  • Calculators
  • Computer discs
  • Crayons
  • Highlighters
  • Hosiery
  • Jackets
  • Jeans
  • Notebooks
  • Pajamas
  • Pens
  • Shoes
  • Socks

Some items that are NOT tax-free: jewelry, briefcases, helmets, life jackets, sports pads, printer paper, staplers, books, and flash drives.

Click here to see a full list of items that are taxable or exempt.


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