If you need back to school wear and supplies, or just want a deal on clothing, footwear and some accessories, the 2012 Sales Tax Holiday starts next Friday, Aug. 3, and runs through Sunday, Aug. 5.
No sales tax or local option tax will be collected on sales of clothing, footwear and certain accessories selling for $75 or less per item, or on certain school supplies selling for $15 or less.
Of note, the holiday does not apply to books or items purchased at the airport, theme parks, lodging establishments or entertainment complexes.
Even with school scheduled to start just around the corner on Wednesday, Aug. 8, local retailers are looking forward to some busy days for the upcoming tax holiday.
It's also a very pleasant time for the retailers, said Bealls' Director of Public and Government Affairs Bill Webster. "People are in a wonderful shopping mood, and other businesses benefit as well, not just those selling clothing or school supplies."
He said restaurants enjoy increases in traffic, and other stores run specials at the time.
"We did it (the holiday) last year and we expect significant increases during the tax-free period." That's at both Bealls Department Stores and Bealls Outlets, he said.
Webster said they polled a lot of shoppers after last year's holiday.
"We found a lot of interesting things. The fact that you are saving on paying the tax really goes to the heart of the Florida consumer. People see sales all the time, but it doesn't resonate as much as when you are saving paying tax money," he said.
The customer gets an added benefit, he said, because other retailers will be running lots of specials because of that volume of shoppers.
"We're expecting it to be awfully big," Webster said.
"Back to school is an important time for any retailer," said Josh Braverman, Family Dollar spokesman. "For Family Dollar it's about convenience and value. A tax-free holiday provides additional value to our already value-priced back-to-school items."
"Our stores are very busy as shoppers continue to be budget conscious and embrace our quality brands, values and conveniences," said Kohl's Department Stores' Sr. Vice President of Public Relations, Social Marketing & Community Relations Vicki Shamion. "While we do not provide specific information about sales or expectations, we feel we are well-positioned for the back-to-school season."
You can start shopping during the three-day tax holiday at 12:01 a.m. on Aug. 3, and keep shopping until 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 5, depending on store hours.
The tax holiday also applies to online purchases. Tax-exempt items purchased by mail order - including transactions over the Internet - will qualify for the exemption if the order is accepted by the mail-order company during the exemption period for immediate shipment, according to the Florida Department of Revenue rules.
If you are not sure about what items qualify the Florida Department of Revenue has a guide online at myflorida.com/dor or you can call 800-352-3671. They also have examples to illustrate commonly asked questions, such as "buy one get one free" items (You cannot average in order to get both items to qualify for exemption).
Some formal definitions from the state:
n "Clothing" means any article of wearing apparel, including all footwear (except skis, swim fins, roller blades, and skates) intended to be worn on or about the human body. However, "clothing" does not include watches, watchbands, jewelry, umbrellas, handkerchiefs or sporting equipment.
n "School supplies" means pens, pencils, erasers, crayons, notebooks, notebook filler paper, legal pads, binders, lunch boxes, construction paper, markers, folders, poster board, composition books, poster paper, scissors, cellophane tape, glue, paste, rulers, computer disks, protractors, compasses and calculators.
n "Theme park or entertainment complex" means a complex comprised of at least 25 adjacent acres owned and controlled by the same business entity and which contains permanent exhibitions and a variety of recreational activities and has a minimum of 1 million visitors annually.
n "Public lodging establishment" means any unit, group of units, dwelling, building, or group of buildings within a complex of buildings, which is rented to guests more than three times in a calendar year for periods of less than 30 days or one calendar month, whichever is less, or which is advertised or offered to the public as a place regularly rented to guests.
n "Airport" means an area of land or water used for, or intended to be used for, landing and takeoff of aircraft, including accessory or relative areas, buildings, facilities, or rights-of-way necessary to facilitate such use or intended use.