Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Business

Florida expands back-to-school sales tax holiday Aug. 1-3

RECOMMENDED READING


Florida's back-to-school sales tax holiday starts Friday and runs through Sunday with savings on more items this year.

The state is expanding the tax break to cover clothing and shoes $100 or less per item, up from $75 last year. Computers will be tax free on the first $750 of the sale price, meaning a shopper buying a $1,000 laptop will only pay tax on $250. Once again, school supplies $15 or less will be tax exempt, including pencils, pens, paper, binders, notebooks, rulers and scissors.

The savings, while small on a box of crayons, can add up quickly on larger purchases. In Hillsborough, Pasco or Pinellas counties, where the sales tax is 7 percent, the savings on a $750 computer would be $52.50. In Hernando County, with its 6.5 percent sales tax, the savings would be $48.75.

The sales tax break extends to any laptop, desktop, tablet and electronic book reader but excludes cell phones, video game consoles, digital media receivers or televisions. Also covered are computer accessories including keyboards, monitors, modems, routers, headphones and memory cards.

Approved by the Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott, the three-day holiday is expected to save residents at least $40 million, according to the Florida Retail Federation. Florida TaxWatch estimates Floridians have saved $407.6 million since the back-to-start sales tax holiday started in 1998.

"Florida's economy is humming along at a nice pace, and we are very pleased to see consumer spending warming up,'' said Florida Retail Federation president and CEO Rick McAllister. "Consumer spending is at least 70 percent of the economy, so when retailers are doing well it usually means everyone is doing well.''

Combined spending for back to school and college is forecasted to reach about $5 billion in Florida, with tax-exempt sales accounting for estimated $600 million of it. Back to school is the second most important shopping season for retailers, behind Christmas.

The exemption will be available to any shopper, regardless of whether they are buying for school-age children, but excludes purchases made at theme parks, hotels and airports. It will also apply to online purchases from retailers with a brick-and-mortar presence in Florida, such as Best Buy and Target, that normally charge sales tax on purchases delivered to the state.

After a sluggish first half of the year, retailers are hoping for a strong finish. The National Retail Federation's annual Back-to-School Survey found the average family with children in grades K-12 will spend $669 on apparel, shoes, supplies and electronics, up 5 percent from $635 last year.

Here are some deals and promotions happening at area stores:

• Staples is offering a 110% Price Match Guarantee on back-to-school items sold in stores and online, including Amazon.com. Customers will receive the lower price plus an additional 10 percent off the difference between the Staples price and the competitor's price. To receive the price match, shoppers must show a copy of the competitor's ad. For purchases made on Staples.com, customers can call toll-free at 1 (800) 333-3330.

• Walmart has cut prices on 10 percent more back-to-school items compared with last year and has increased the number of school products available on Walmart.com by about 30 percent, to 75,000.

• Target is giving away up to $25 million in school supplies to the Kids In Need Foundation through its Buy One Give One program on select up & up brand notebooks, pencils, crayons and other items.

• Sears and Kmart have launched free store pickup at many locations where people can purchase school supplies online and pick them up at either store. Sears also offers in-vehicle pickup where shoppers can get online orders by driving to a store and parking in designated spots. If an order isn't delivered curbside within five minutes, the customer gets a $5 store coupon.

• Publix is having a Tools for Back to School campaign through Aug. 13. Shoppers can add $5, $7 or $10 to their purchase to provide school supplies to local charities.

• Spend $250 at WestShore Plaza Friday through Sunday and receive a $25 gift card to any store at the mall. On Aug. 9, the food court's Chick-fil-A is having a back-to-school rally from noon to 3 p.m. with games, crafts and prizes.

Contact Susan Thurston at [email protected] or (813) 225-3110. Follow @susan_thurston.

Comments
Eight women say Charlie Rose sexually harassed them - with nudity, groping and lewd calls

Eight women say Charlie Rose sexually harassed them - with nudity, groping and lewd calls

Eight women have told the Washington Post that longtime television host Charlie Rose made unwanted sexual advances toward them, including lewd phone calls, walking around naked in their presence, or groping their breasts, buttocks or genital areas.Th...
Updated: 10 hours ago
St. Petersburg council okays restaurant deal for Manhattan Casino

St. Petersburg council okays restaurant deal for Manhattan Casino

ST. PETERSBURG — The City Council on Monday approved a lease for the Manhattan Casino, a landmark building in the city’s historic African-American business and entertainment community.It was a controversial decision for some of the city’s black resid...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Tampa Electric, contractor fined $43,000 in gas leak

Tampa Electric, contractor fined $43,000 in gas leak

APOLLO BEACH — The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Tampa Electric $18,108 and gave the company two "serious" citations for its response to a gas leak at the Big Bend Power Station in May, the agency announced late Friday.T...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Forecast: Florida retailers expect strong holiday shopping sales

Forecast: Florida retailers expect strong holiday shopping sales

‘Tis the season for holiday shopping, and this year is expected to be particularly kind to retailers.The Florida Retail Federation’s holiday shopping forecast predicts that a combination of high consumer confidence, strong tourism numbers and a littl...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Up for sale? Activist investor grabs stake in Tampa’s Bloomin’ Brands

Up for sale? Activist investor grabs stake in Tampa’s Bloomin’ Brands

TAMPA — If you tread water too long in the same spot, someone might start asking why you’re not trying to swim somewhere.Tampa’s Bloomin’ Brands — parent company of such prominent restaurant chains as Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill and ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Glenn Thrush, New York Times reporter, accused of sexual misbehavior

Glenn Thrush, New York Times reporter, accused of sexual misbehavior

The New York Times said Monday that it was suspending Glenn Thrush, one of its most prominent reporters, after he was accused of sexually inappropriate behavior.The move came after the website Vox published a report containing allegations that Thrus...
Published: 11/20/17
Most air travelers say taking off your shoes is okay. An etiquette expert disagrees

Most air travelers say taking off your shoes is okay. An etiquette expert disagrees

Unless you are ensconced in first class, sleeping on a plane is as intimate as dozing off in a waiting room on jury duty — everyone on the aircraft knows the decibel level of your snoring and the sad state of your socks.To gauge how passengers percei...
Published: 11/20/17
Senator Nelson on tax reform bill: Small business will ‘get it in the neck.’

Senator Nelson on tax reform bill: Small business will ‘get it in the neck.’

TAMPA — A week ahead of the expected vote on a controversial tax reform bill, U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., visited Tampa to deliver a message to small businesses: This bill will hurt you."Small businesses are the economic engine of F...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Stolen car crashes in St. Pete, leaving passenger, 15, with life threatening injuries

Two boys in a stolen car struck a dip in the roadway and crashed into a tree, leaving the 15-year-old passenger with life-threatening injuries, St. Petersburg police said.The crash occurred about 11:25 a.m. Sunday as the car sped west on 11th Avenue ...
Published: 11/19/17
Updated: 11/20/17

Search suspended for missing Cortez boater who left from Egmont Key

The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search for a missing 63-year-old boater on Sunday evening, two days after he and his dog were reported missing 5 miles northwest of Mead Point, just inland from Anna Maria Island.On Friday, Fraser Horne of Cortez le...
Published: 11/19/17