Floridians may get two sales tax holidays for natural disaster supplies this year under a proposal being considered by state lawmakers in Tallahassee. But legislators are being encouraged to do more to help state homeowners better harden their homes against potential hurricanes and other natural disasters.
Currently, a proposal in the Senate would create two 7-day sales tax holidays on a list of disaster supplies ranging from batteries to generators.
Groups like the Florida Association for Insurance Reform (FAIR) are urging the Legislature to also exempt building supplies that are designed to strengthen the integrity of homes during hurricanes.
Research conducted by FAIR shows that for every $1 of investment in mitigation, Florida saves $4 or more in costs post-hurricane.
“Home hardening is an essential part of stepping up preparation and being able to weather storms to reduce property damage and loss of life,” said Jay Neal, President and CEO of FAIR. “Providing a good and reasonable financial incentive for Floridians to take action steps to harden their homes could reduce our state’s losses in the next storm – and everyone would benefit from reduced insurance costs.”
Neal and other industry leaders would like to see items like impact-resistant windows/doors and hurricane straps, which could make Florida homes significantly better able to withstand a serious storm, added to the list of items exempted during the sales tax holidays.
The head of PGT Innovations, the nation’s leading manufacturer and supplier of impact-resistant windows and doors, and Sarasota County’s largest private employer, says adding home hardening materials would add a spark to Florida’s economy, in addition to better preparing homes to withstand hurricanes.
“People put off major purchases that could make their homes so much safer,” PGT’s President and CEO Jeff Jackson said. “A sales tax holiday could be just the thing to positively prompt Floridians to make smart investments in hardening their homes, instead of putting it off and crossing their fingers.”
Jackson says even homes built within the last 5-10 years don’t have the most recent home hardening technology. He says with forecasts calling for more frequent, severe hurricanes it would benefit Florida and its residents to offer exemptions on storm hardening building supplies as part of the sales tax holidays.
“This idea could trigger a round of economic activity that benefits the state, Florida homeowners, and the economy,” said Jackson.
FAIR says it fully supports the idea of expanding the sales tax holiday to include home hardening materials. Neal said Florida has positioned itself as a national leader in strengthening and holding the line on a unified statewide standard building code. He says offering an expanded sales tax holiday would further establish Florida as a leader in storm readiness.