Consumers to get break on school and hurricane supplies

Floridians are in line for a pair of three-day sales tax “holidays” — for the hurricane season and for back-to-school shopping — and will no longer pay the so-called tampon tax under a measure approved by state lawmakers Monday night.

But the slimmed-down tax cut package (HB 7109), which still requires Gov. Rick Scott's signature, went through a series of late changes amid continued volleying between the House and Senate as the 2017 legislative session came to a close, three days behind schedule.

The tax package also offers a modest reduction to a 6 percent tax on commercial rents.

A key feature of the package is a sales-tax holiday Aug. 4 to 6, timed with the start of the school year. During the period, shoppers will not have to pay sales taxes on clothes, backpacks and footwear under $60, school supplies that cost $15 or less and personal computers and accessories valued under $750.

The tax break is expected to account for $34.8 million of the package.

A hurricane-season tax holiday, set for June 2 to 4, would give shoppers a break on items such as self-powered radios, tarpaulins, first-aid kits, battery packs and portable generators that sell for less than $750.

One of the highest-profile parts of the package focused on eliminating sales taxes on feminine-hygiene products, an issue known as the tampon tax.

“I have gotten more positive email on that than I have on any other bill I've sponsored in this Legislature,” said Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, a Naples Republican who sponsored legislation to eliminate the tax.

The House had initially rolled out a nearly $300 million tax-cut package that also would have eliminated taxes on diapers and given a sales-tax holiday on Veterans Day for honorably discharged U.S. military veterans. But the final package did not include the veterans' tax holiday or diaper discount.