Hurricane Relief

Floridians have become accustomed to a sales tax holiday on back to school clothes and supplies. Now, there's talk of another sales tax holiday. This one would encourage folks go out and buy plywood, generators and other supplies before hurricane season.

People lined up all over Florida last year to buy hard-to-find hurricane supplies like generators. Now lawmakers want to give you a reason not to wait ‘til the last minute with a 12-day sales tax holiday, but will the tax break really motivate people to prepare?

Hardware store employee Tommy Cogswell is doubtful.

“I don’t think necessarily they would. It’s always been a Florida thing. They wait ‘til they know where it’s going, then they start getting prepared.”

But some customers like the idea.

Mike Matthews says, “I think it’d be good for the people who need to use it. They can save a little money on tax.”

Hurricane expenses can take a big chunk out of a family budget. You can easily spend $100 or more on plywood, tarps and other supplies. A generator can cost you over $1,000.

State Rep. Ron Greenstein says the tax break would help families afford the basics.

“We're not talking about storm-impact glass shutters. This is the working peoples’ tax break that allows them to take that extra month of preparation.”

At the federal level, lawmakers are weighing whether to let Floridians create tax-free savings accounts to help pay hurricane expenses like insurance deductibles and repair costs.

Tammy Torres of the Florida Department of Financial Services says, “If your attached garage has been torn down or a tree has fallen through your roof and you need to make immediate repairs to mitigate damage, then the money could be used for those type of repairs.”

But the tax breaks come with a price tag. The hurricane sales tax holiday would cost the state anywhere from $30 to $50 million.

The proposed hurricane sales tax holiday would run from June 1 until the 12th if the Legislature and governor give the go-ahead. Supporters estimate it would save the average person $30.


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