Tax Free Back to School Holiday
It’s August and for many, that means back-to-school sales. School supplies can get expensive, and tax on those school supplies can really break the bank. Thankfully, Florida has a special Tax-Free holiday to help parents save some money on supplies. However, there have been a lot of changes since last year that both parents and businesses need to be aware of.
For Florida shoppers, the tax-free weekend holiday has been shortened this year. It begins at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, August 5 and lasts through the weekend. The previous tax-free holiday was 10 days instead of just 3.
During the weekend, shoppers won’t have to pay local and state sales taxes on selected items. However, there have been some changes as to what applies and what doesn’t apply for the tax-free savings this year.
Last year, shoppers could buy clothing valued at $100 or less and not pay taxes. This year, that amount has been decreased to $60 or less. School supplies valued at $15 or less are also part of the tax break this year.
Unlike previous years, computers and computer peripherals are not included in the tax-free holiday.
Florida Governor Rick Scott did attempt to lengthen the tax-free holiday for shoppers, but the Florida legislature denied his request.
If you are looking to take advantage of the tax-free holiday, be sure that you are aware of what is included and what is excluded. While many items of clothing, footwear, and school supplies are included under the provisions, there are many things that are excluded.
The following are just some of the items included in the sales tax holiday:
- Items of clothing, including footwear, that sell for under $60
- School supplies selling for under $15
- Applicable items purchased with a gift card
- Items placed on layaway during the holiday and paid for after the holiday are allowed
Keep in mind, however, that there are also items that are not included in the sales tax holiday.
Here are a few frequently bought items that are not included:
- Accessories such as jewelry and watches
- Cloth, yarn, lace, and other fabrics
- Makeup bags
- Rented formal clothing
- Clothing repair items such as buttons, thread, zippers, etc
For a guide to everything that is included and excluded, a PDF can be found here.
If you are a business owner, it is imperative that you keep a record of all eligible items sold. These items should be reported as exempt sales when you file your sales tax return.
This year, a new option has been added to allow qualified businesses to elect not to take part in the sales tax holiday. To be a qualified business, less than 5% of your business’s gross personal property during 2015 were sales of items that would have qualified under the tax-exempt holiday.
However, if you meet these qualifications, a letter of your intent not to participate must have been received by August 1st by the Department of Revenue. The notice must have been written on company letterhead and state that the business meets the qualifications above. If your business has multiple locations, one notice will serve for all locations.
In addition to the above, the qualified business must post a notice to the public stating that they are not participating in the annual sales-tax holiday.
More information on qualified businesses can be found here.
Back to school shopping can be an expensive endeavor, but it can be more expensive for businesses if they don’t understand how this tax holiday works. If you have more questions about the tax-free holiday and how it can affect your business, contact your Ft. Lauderdale sales tax attorneys at Zuckerman Law for a consultation.