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Republicans Want Broadest Tax Holiday Yet

Florida Senate

A Senate panel on Monday blessed a Republican plan to take the traditional sales tax holiday to a whole new level. Two Republican lawmakers want to create a “Small Business Saturday” holiday targeting 80 percent of all business in Florida that pay sales taxes.

Representative Jay Fant of Jacksonville and Senator Rene Garcia of Hialeah want to put “Small Business Saturday” into Florida law. It would fall two days after Thanksgiving. Fant sees a Black Friday shopping rush but for millions of shop owners and cost-conscious customers .

“That day is about consumers, on a broad based basis.”

Any businesses that pay $200,000 dollars a year or less to the state in sales taxes would qualify. That usually translates to $3.3 million in annual sales.

Back to school or pre-hurricane season tax holidays are limited to specific items, back packs and sneakers, or flashlights and generators. Small Business Saturday isn’t, as long as the merchandize costs less than $1,000. That means tobacco and alcohol are fair game, Fant acknowledges.

“Any licensed business in the state of Florida.”

What one man calls Small Business Saturday, another calls Trademark. The bills take their name from a 15-year-old national movement sponsored by American Express. The credit card company holds the rights to the name.

If the name ruffles the financial giant’s feathers, it hasn’t said so, says Bill Herrle, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business. Besides, an existing tax break applies to another household name, he says.

“We have had an Energy Star, energy efficient appliance sales tax holiday in the past.”

The Senate panel tweaked the bill slightly Monday to make sure chain stores don’t qualify.

A Miami native, former WFSU reporter Jim Ash is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, most of it in print. He has been a member of the Florida Capital Press Corps since 1992.