Florida Governor Oks End to Tampon Tax

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a $180-million tax cut package that will eliminate taxes charged on tampons and created two sales tax holidays.

Scott approved the bill even though state legislators gave the Republican governor far less than what he had initially asked for in January.

"Every time we cut taxes, we are encouraging businesses of all sizes to create opportunities for families across the state and more money is put back in taxpayers' pockets," said Scott in a statement.

The tax cut package creates a three-day "back-to-school" tax holiday in August where residents could purchase tax-free clothes that cost $60 or less. The tax holiday, held Aug. 4 through Aug. 6, covered school supplies costing $15 or less and computers that cost $750 or less.

There was also a three-day period during the first weekend in June to allow residents to purchase storm preparation supplies tax-free. Batteries, flashlights, portable generators costing $750 or less were on the list of item exempt from Florida's 6 percent sales tax.

Starting in January, the new law will make feminine hygiene products such as tampons and menstrual pads tax-exempt. Florida is joining 13 states and the District of Columbia that exempt taxes on the sale of feminine hygiene products or have enacted laws to exempt these products in the future.

"This common sense legislation will result in a tax savings for women all over the state who purchase these necessary products," said Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, the Naples Republican who pushed for the exemption.

Scott had initially asked the GOP-controlled Florida Legislature to pass a hefty $618 million tax cut package that included a 25 percent reduction in the sales tax charged on commercial rents. Scott also wanted the "back-to-school" sales tax holiday to last 10 days and he wanted a three-day sales tax holiday for military veterans. The governor also asked for a one-year elimination of sales taxes charged on college textbooks.

Legislators ignored, or greatly scaled back Scott's recommendations. They decided to cut the sales tax on commercial rent by only 3 percent.

Republican legislators rejected a Scott plan to use a rise in local property taxes to pay for an increase to public schools. Instead they put together a new state budget that calls for a slight cut in local property taxes that go to schools. They also placed on the 2018 ballot a measure that would increase the state's homestead exemption for property taxes if approved by voters.

Scott, however, has hinted he may veto the budget, which would force legislators back to the state capital later this year.

By GARY FINEOUT, Associated Press