New Florida law includes Freedom Week. Here’s what that means

Law extends Back to School tax-free period, too

Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at Home Depot in Pensacola. (WPLG)

PENSACOLA, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a tax relief package into law that includes the state’s first-ever Freedom Week and extends the state’s Back to School tax-free period.

The governor made the announcement Friday at a news conference with Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis, Senate President Wilton Simpson, House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie.

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HB 7061 was signed into law and addresses tax relief for Back to School and emergency preparedness, along with the new Freedom Week.

“This tax package will include the first-ever Freedom Week, which will be a seven-day sales tax holiday on outdoor recreational purchases, as well as tickets for events museums, the arts and more,” DeSantis said.

The tax relief package also extends the state’s Back to School sales tax holiday to run for 10 days, from July 31 through Aug. 9. The package also brings tax relief during the disaster preparedness tax holiday, from May 28 through June 6.

“We know hurricane season is basically upon us. I know they say June 1, but in reality I think they’re going to start saying, ‘You need to start thinking about this at this point in May going forward,’” he said. “...We’re anticipating to it to be a relatively active season and Floridians should just understand that this is something that we may have to deal with, so it’s best to be prepared.”

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Guthrie followed up the governor, urging Floridians to prepare now than wait for an emergency to arrive.

“We’re trying to incentivize that. We’re trying to make sure that the sales tax benefit gives you motivation, so you go out and get those resources now,” he said. “As opposed to waiting when, when the emergency comes.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its annual outlook Thursday for the hurricane season. NOAA is forecasting 13-20 named storms in 2021, with six to 10 hurricanes, and three to six major hurricanes, meaning category 3 or higher.

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The new tax-free period during the first week of July eliminate sales tax on things like museum, movie and music tickets, fishing and camping gear, bicycles, kayaks and surfboards. Tickets purchased during Freedom Week could be used for future events during the year.

Patronis referred to lives last year being changed last year as a result of the pandemic and said he hopes Freedom Week will allow people to embrace “everything that’s great to be a Floridian.”

“We know that this year, more than most, families have been cooped up. They were sometimes, you know, their businesses were hurt,” he said. “This year we want to make it very clear that we want them to embrace that. We hope that people will go out, that they’ll buy grills that they’ll go camping that they’ll play sports that they’ll go to visit our state parks, and they’ll go outside and enjoy great and safe concert venues.”

Friday’s announcement follows the governor’s speech at a political event in Pennsylvania that many believe hinted at his political future.

During a speech at the Allegheny County GOP’S annual Lincoln Day Dinner, DeSantis urged Republicans to continue fighting and to “not back down” and told the crowd he was only beginning to fight.

About the Author:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.