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Posted: April 13, 2016

Tax break for manufacturers, back-to-school shoppers signed by Scott


            Tax break for manufacturers, back-to-school shoppers signed by Scott
082511 (Taylor Jones/The Palm Beach Post). WEST PALM BEACH. Conniston Middle School teacher Gloria Royle(cq) holds the Texas Instrument Nspire Navigator device. The 7th and 8th grade Honors algebra class use these special calculators called Nspire Navigator made by Texas Instruments bought last year. They are working with Palm Beach Atlantic University to develop an algebra curriculum using the interactive calculators for both middle and college students.

By John Kennedy

Palm Beach Post Capital Bureau


The News Service of Florida contributed to this story.


Complete legislative and political coverage,

A back-to-school sales tax holiday and breaks for manufacturers and a host of other industries were included in legislation signed into law Wednesday by Governor Rick Scott.

Clothing, shoes and backpacks costing $60 or less will be exempt from the state’s 6 percent sales tax the weekend of Aug. 5-7, while school supplies costing $15 or less also will be tax-free.

The back-to-school break amounts to $28.7 million of the $129 million tax-break bill (HB 7099), with the biggest savings going to manufacturers. They’ll get to keep $73.1 million they would have paid in sales taxes on equipment purchases.

The elimination of the tax on manufacturing machinery and equipment is permanent, while the three-day sales tax holiday for school supplies is just for this year. It’s also scaled back from last year’s tax holiday, when shoppers got a 10-day holiday.

House Finance and Tax Chairman Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, touted the cuts, saying, “We have made the decision in Florida that we can grow our economy, meet the needs of our state and care for the vulnerable not by having more taxes, but by having more taxpayers. These tax cuts welcome new families, businesses, and visitors to our state each day.”

Other reductions included in the bill affect taxes paid on aviation fuel, asphalt and pear cider. It also affects taxes paid by fruit and vegetable packing houses and how the state levy on some tobacco products is calculated.

The bill signed by Scott was a central part of just over $400 million in tax breaks approved by lawmakers this year.

The biggest share of the reduction, however, will go to property taxpayers, with lawmakers having agreed to reduce taxes used to finance schools. That property tax cut was set in motion when Scott last month signed the state’s $82 billion budget for the year beginning July 1.

Scott’s fellow Republicans in the Legislature sharply scaled back a $1 billion tax-cut plan he sought, and also ignored his pitch for $250 million in economic incentives — which might explain why Scott’s signing of HB 7099 came with little flourish.

Scott held a ceremonial bill-signing as the undercard of his attendance of an announcement by Novolex — which makes plastic bags — that it’s expanding a manufacturing facility in Jacksonville.

In a release, the governor’s office noted that “during the announcement, Gov. Scott also ceremonially signed HB 7099.”

“This bill will not only give Florida families an important back-to-school sales tax holiday, but it will also permanently eliminate the sales tax on manufacturing machinery and equipment so companies like Novolex can invest more money in growing their business and creating new jobs,” Scott said in the release.

Scott had campaigned vigorously for his more expensive plan, running television ads, conducting a bus tour in January, and soliciting letters of support from dozens of city and county officials for the tax breaks and economic incentives that he cast as a blueprint for sparking the Florida economy and creating more jobs.

Lawmakers, however, were uneasy about the potential long-term impact of Scott’s plan on Florida’s financing. They also were skeptical of his approach.

Scott’s $1 billion in cuts were aimed almost exclusively at businesses. His bid for another $250 million in economic incentives also was dismissed by state lawmakers wary of handing the governor cash he could use to woo companies of his choice.

Instead, lawmakers tipped tax breaks more toward property owners.

The almost 6 percent reduction in the property tax that the state requires all school districts to collect for public schools — a portion called the “required local effort” — should mean a tax savings of $58 a year to the owner of a $250,000 home with a $50,000 homestead exemption.

That amounts to about $290 million of the $400 million in overall tax breaks passed by the Legislature this year. At the same time, lawmakers increased public school funding by $458 million, a 1 percent boost, by using other types of taxes and fees collected by the state.

“By reducing local millage rates we are ensuring that state tax dollars, rather than local property taxes, cover a larger share of the unprecedented K-12 per-student funding allocated this year in our budget,” said Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando.


Complete legislative and political coverage,

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