Make us your home page

Back-to-school tax holiday returns, with changes

Florida's back-to-school sales tax holiday returns for the 11th time from Aug. 12 through 14, with some modified rules.

The state will forsake $30 million in sales tax collections over that three-day weekend on clothing, shoes and school supplies in hopes a 6 to 7 percent tax savings will stimulate business.

While critics claimed the tax holiday only spreads retail sales over a longer period, studies by the Florida Retail Federation found the state actually gains sales tax collections. That's because people buy other taxable goods while they are out back-to-school shopping.

"Sales stagnated some of the years we did not have a tax holiday," said Rick McAllister, chief executive of the Florida Retail Federation.

Changes in what's exempt this time include:

• The price of eligible clothing and shoe items has been increased to $75 apiece, up from $50 last year.

• The price tag for each qualifying school supply item has been lifted to $15, up from $10.

• Books were dropped from the tax exemption list this year, but sales of the Bible, as always, remains exempt from Florida sales tax.

The basic ground rules have not changed:

• The exemption applies to the price of the exempt item, not the value of the total sale, and there is no limit on the quantity purchased.

• The tax exemption is available to any shopper and not limited to back-to-school purchases.

• Tax exemptions apply at mail order houses like online retailers, gift cards and layaway sales as long as the final payment is made during the tax holiday.

• Exchanges remain tax exempt after the holiday only if an item is returned for a different size or color.

Some head scratchers, thanks to tax law writers aiming to narrow purchases to school-related purchases:

• Notebook paper is exempt from sales tax but computer paper isn't.

• Backpacks and fanny packs are exempt, but not luggage like briefcases or garment bags.

• Gloves are exempt unless they are batting gloves, rubber or for bicycling.

• Hunting vests, sports uniforms and bowling shoes are exempt because kids might wear them to school. But football pads, water ski vests and skates are taxable.

• Handbags and hair accessories are exempt, but not handkerchiefs, jewelry or watches.

Tax-free items are available to nonresidents, but to limit the benefit to vacationers, exemptions do not apply to transactions in theme parks, airports or hotels.

You can learn more at

Back-to-school tax holiday returns, with changes 08/02/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 2, 2011 9:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. PunditFact: George Will's comparison of tax preparers, firefighters based on outdated data


    The statement

    "America has more people employed as tax preparers (1.2 million) than as police and firefighters."

    George Will, July 12 in a column

    The ruling

    WASHINGTON - JANUARY 08: Conservative newspaper columnist George Will poses on the red carpet upon arrival at a salute to FOX News Channel's Brit Hume on January 8, 2009 in Washington, DC. Hume was honored for his 35 years in journalism. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
  2. Appointments at Shutts & Bowen and Tech Data highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers



    Retired U.S. Navy Commander Scott G. Johnson has joined Shutts & Bowen LLP in its Tampa office as a senior attorney in the firm's Government Contracts and Corporate Law Practice Groups. Johnson brings 15 years of legal experience and 24 years of naval service to his position. At Shutts, Scott will …

    United States Navy Commander (Retired) Scott G. Johnson joins Shutts & Bowen LLP in its Tampa office. [Company handout]
  3. Macy's chairman replaces ex-HSN head Grossman on National Retail Federation board


    Terry Lundgren, chairman of Macy's Inc., will replace Weight Watchers CEO Mindy Grossman as chair of the National Retail Federation, the organization announced Wednesday. Grossman stepped down from her position following her move from leading St. Petersburg-based HSN to Weight Watchers.

    Weight Watchers CEO and former HSN chief Mindy Grossman is being replaced as chair of the National Retail Federation. [HSN Inc.]
  4. Unexpected weak quarter at MarineMax slashes boating retailer shares nearly 25 percent


    CLEARWATER — Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, a boating business leader issued a small craft warning.

    Bill McGill Jr., CEO of Clearwater's MarineMax, the country's biggest recreational boat retailer. [Courtesy of MarineMax]
  5. CapTrust moving headquarters to downtown Park Tower


    TAMPA — CAPTRUST Advisors, a Raleigh, N.C.-based investment consulting firm, is moving its Tampa offices into Park Tower. CapTrust's new space will be 10,500 square feet — the entirety of the 18th floor of the downtown building, which is scheduled to undergo a multi-million-dollar renovation by 2018.

    CAPTRUST Advisors' Tampa location is moving into Park Tower. Pictured is the current CapTrust location at 102 W. Whiting St. | [Times file photo]