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Florida governor touts sales tax holidays despite criticism

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(The Center Square) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis touted the state’s sales tax holidays and other savings intended to help Floridians and tourists enjoy the Sunshine State.

Critics such as the Tax Foundation say that sales tax holidays are “ineffective and inefficient” and don’t deliver the economic benefits promised since research has shown that consumers are merely shifting the time of purchases they were already going to make.

Sales tax holidays aren’t the only incentive provided by Florida. During Memorial Day Weekend, DeSantis said that Floridians can access all state parks for free over the four days.

“We’ve got the best state park system in the United States, we’re proud of that,” DeSantis said. “Part of it is because we’ve got a lot of great natural resources, so it’s great to have parks in areas that are beautiful.”

DeSantis said Memorial Day weekend would essentially be the start of the summer savings, and from July 1, the Freedom Sales Tax Initiative will begin.

From July 1 to July 31, there will be sales-tax-free fishing supplies, camping supplies, boating and water activities, pool supplies, sunscreen, sunblock, bug spray, general outdoor supplies, gas and charcoal grills will be sales tax-free up to $250, while bicycles under $500 will be sales tax-free.

“That’s gonna be a really important month, we wanna put it on everyone’s radar now, so they can start planning for those purchases if they want to do that,” DeSantis said. “In addition, many events and activities which Floridians like to participate in will also be tax-free.”

According to the Tax Foundation, 18 states had sales tax holidays in 2023.

This includes movies, live music, sporting events, festivals, fairs and entry to state parks and museums, where annual passes will also be tax-free.

DeSantis stated that during the fall months last year, the state gave residents a 50% discount on annual passes for state parks, adding that this was very successful.

“This is gonna make a big difference for families, and we’re happy to step up and do it,” DeSantis said. “You know, Florida is a great summer state, great beach weather…We set a record last year for summer tourism. We had 35 million people come just in the summer in the state of Florida, that’s pretty incredible.”

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection secretary Shawn Hamilton encouraged Florida residents to take advantage of the savings.

“There’s not a better place to go than our state parks, they are just amazing opportunities to connect folks to the real Florida, to remind us all what we hold dear and why those resources should be treasured,” Hamilton said.

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