At the annual Governor's Hurricane Conference in West Palm Beach this week, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a tax package that includes disaster-preparedness and school tax holidays, as well as aid for business owners who rent commercial space and farmers impacted by Hurricane Michael. The bill, HB 7123, which was touted as offering $121 million in tax breaks, is also projected to cut state and local revenue by $87.5 million. It was approved during the end of the 2019 legislative session, at the beginning of this month.
In addition to providing a seven-day tax “holiday” for disaster preparation starting May 31, which expected to save consumers $5.5 million in state and local taxes, the bill reduces the sales tax on commercial leases from 5.7 percent to 5.5 percent, accounting for $27.3 million in savings during the next fiscal year. The lower rate will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
The package also offers refunds on taxes paid for agricultural shipments between Oct. 10, 2018, the day Hurricane Michael made landfall, and June 30, 2019. Additionally, DeSantis announced he will make $25 million available through Florida's Small Business Emergency Loan Program to assist farmers who sustained damage from Hurricane Michael as they enter the growing season. Florida's agricultural industry suffered an estimated $1.5 billion in losses from Hurricane Michael; the timber industry accounts for most of the damages.