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June 9, 2005

Despite Strong Response to Hurricane Sales Tax Holiday, Floridians Can Still Take Advantage of Tax Break

TALLAHASSEE – Very strong consumer response to the nation's first sales tax holiday on hurricane supplies has exceeded all expectations. But even though supplies of qualifying electrical generators have run low in some stores, there are still ways for Floridians to take advantage of the tax exemption, the state Department of Revenue (DOR) announced Thursday.

Under the sales-tax holiday law, portable electrical generators used to preserve food and provide lighting during a weather emergency can be purchased tax-free if they sell for $750 or less. Floridians have responded to this sales-tax holiday so strongly that many retailers report that they are running low on supplies of electrical generators available for immediate delivery.

Consumers can still receive the tax exemption if they make sure they follow these steps when purchasing a generator:

  • The consumer must enter into a binding contract with the retailer to purchase a generator valued at $750 or less. A credit-card transaction or debit-card transaction would meet this requirement, even if the generator were not delivered to the consumer until after June 12.

  • The transaction must occur before midnight June 12. Transactions entered into after this date cannot qualify for the tax exemption under the law.

  • The store must agree to segregate the generator in its inventory. Getting on a mere "waiting list," or exchanging a promise to purchase a generator that is not binding on either the consumer or the retailer, does not meet the laws requirements.

  • The consumer can receive the tax exemption by entering into a layaway agreement with the retailer if the layaway agreement is binding on both parties; if the consumer makes a deposit, if one is required by the retailers layaway policy; and if the merchandise is segregated in the stores inventory.

  • A Florida consumer can receive the tax exemption by making a purchase through an on-line retailer, through a catalog telephone hotline, or via another remote-commerce transaction. If the transaction occurs before midnight June 12, then the purchase will be considered tax-exempt, even if the generator is delivered to a Florida location after June 12.

The nation's first sales-tax holiday for hurricane-preparedness began June 1, after Governor Jeb Bush signed legislation creating the event. Florida taxpayers will save approximately $10 million during this sales tax holiday.

Under the legislation, no state or local sales tax will be collected on certain hurricane-preparedness items from 12:01 a.m. June 1 through midnight June 12, 2005. In additional to electrical generators, other Items exempt from sales tax during this period include:

  • If selling for $50 or less – radios, two-way radios, weather-band radios, tarpaulins, flexible waterproof sheeting, ground-anchor systems, and tie-down kits.

  • If selling for $30 or less – AA, C, D, 6-volt, and 9-volt batteries (excluding automobile and boat batteries. AAA batteries are still taxable).

  • If selling for $30 or less – coolers or ice chests. (Electrical coolers are still taxable.)

  • If selling for $25 or less – gas or diesel fuel containers.

  • If selling for $20 or less – portable self-powered lights, battery-operated flashlights, battery or gas-powered lanterns, or candles selling for $20 or less.

During the hurricane-preparedness tax holiday, sales of footwear, clothing, books, and certain accessories are still taxable. Florida lawmakers have approved a separate sales tax holiday for footwear, clothing, certain accessories, and books from July 23 to July 31, 2005. Florida has provided sales tax holidays on footwear, clothing and certain accessories in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2004.