Hurricane tax ‘holiday’ adds pet supplies

TALLAHASSEE — With a sales-tax “holiday” starting this weekend, Floridians can save a few dollars on pet supplies as they stockpile other needs for the upcoming hurricane season.

The state’s two-week disaster-preparedness tax holiday will begin Saturday and, for the first time, shoppers will be able to avoid paying sales taxes on numerous types of pet supplies. The holiday was part of a broad tax package (HB 7071) that lawmakers passed in March and Gov. Ron DeSantis signed on May 6.

At the request of Girl Scout Troop 60601 in Palm Harbor, lawmakers agreed to lift sales taxes during the holiday on pet carriers that cost $100 or less; pet beds that cost $40 or less; bags of pet food that cost $30 or less; bags of cat litter that cost $25 or less; leashes, collars and muzzles that sell for $20 or less; packages of pet-waste disposable bags that cost $15 or less; and cans of pet food that cost $2 or less.

Related: Local Girl Scouts may be to thank as Florida considers pet supplies for tax holiday

The troop proposed including pet supplies as part of work toward what is known as a “Silver Award.”

“By adding these items to the tax holiday, we will help citizens to be ready when an emergency happens,” one member of the troop told the House Ways & Means Committee in February. They will be able to take their pets to a local shelter and have the mandatory supplies for their pets to stay there.”

The overall tax holiday, which will last through June 10, is geared toward the June 1 start of hurricane season. It has become a regular tax break for Floridians, similar to a back-to-school tax holiday held around the start of the school year.

Related: Sales tax holidays, gas tax exemption: what’s in the tax package DeSantis just signed

Pet supplies aren’t the only new items included in this year’s disaster-preparedness holiday. Lawmakers added smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and carbon-monoxide detectors that cost $70 or less amid calls for residents to safely use generators. Also, people can avoid paying sales taxes on generators that cost $1,000 or less.

“We have now had more deaths over the last several years from generator carbon-monoxide poisoning than we have from storm surge itself,” Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie said.

Guthrie added that the state has had “more indirect fatalities with disasters over the last several seasons than we have with direct fatalities.”

“That’s obviously something that we want to make sure we tell people to be safe on, generator function, and how to make sure that people are setting their generators up properly, which is not outside of a window, not inside of their closed garage,” he said.

Florida Retail Federation President Scott Shalley encouraged people to take advantage of the discount period, as inflation is at a four-decade high and experts predict an active hurricane season.

“At a time when people are feeling the crunch of inflation, this is a really great opportunity to get out and prepare for hurricane season and save a little money while doing so,” Shalley said.

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Other discounted items this year include tarpaulins, waterproof sheeting and tie-down kits that sell for $100 or less; coolers and portable power banks that sell for $60 or less; portable lights that cost $40 or less; reusable ice packs that cost $20 or less; and gas tanks, portable radios, two-way radios, weather-band radios and packs of AA, AAA, C, D, 6-volt or 9-volt batteries that cost $50 or less.

By Jim Turner and Tom Urban

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