Shop ‘Til You Drop On School Supplies Tax-Free

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Florida’s annual back-to-school sales tax holiday is in full swing.

The tax break started Friday morning and runs through midnight Sunday August 4th.

Shoppers at retail stores statewide won’t have to pay sales tax on notebooks, pens, calculators, binders and other school supplies priced up to $15. Clothing and shoes are also tax-exempt up to $75.

But this year there’s an added bonus.  Shoppers will also be able to save the sales tax on personal computers, e-readers and tablets and select accessories that cost $750 or less, as long as they’re not used for commercial purposes.

Shoppers packed the Sawgrass Mills Mall in Sunrise on Friday taking advantage of huge sales and the tax exemption.

“It helps because what I would be paying for taxes I can buy more supplies,” said Karen Wilson who was shopping for school supplies at the Super Target store.  She says she expects to spend about thirty dollars on school supplies for her son who is going into second grade.

Rebecca Singleton was taking advantage of the sales on school uniforms.

“When you have one income, two kids, and one on the way you definitely need to follow your budget,” she tells CBS 4.

At the Dadeland Mall in Miami we found shoppers who had already completed their school supply list.

Kathya Bendek and her daughter Stephanie tell CBS 4 that it took all day but they are ready for the start of school.

“We have been buying shoes, uniforms, pencils, erasers and highlighters,” said Stephanie Bendek.

“I even got a gift for my husband, so I took advantage of tax free for him too,” laughs Kathya Bendek.

Debbie Samper, a mother of two, said the tax break really helps her family.

“When you have to buy everything times two it adds up, so it’s a nice break for a family,” said Samper.

The Florida Retail Federation expects additional hiring by some businesses and says electronics companies have already started lowering the prices on laptops and tablets to fit under the $750 benchmark to be sales-tax free.

“What it looks like is the retailers are preparing for the demand, and they’re marking down some computers so they can slide in under the $750 limit,” said John Fleming, spokesman for the statewide trade association.

Lawmakers approved the exemption this year after they realizing how important technology is to education.

The state Revenue Estimating Conference has estimated the tax break will cost Florida $28.3 million in revenue this year, with local governments out $6.4 million. The statewide projection is up from a $25.9 million estimate from the 2012 back-to-school period that was also three days.

The tax break, as has been in the case in previous years, doesn’t apply in theme parks or at airports or hotel gift shops.

Click here for a complete list of tax exempt items. 

“The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.”

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