‘Virtual currency’ tax holiday would cost state coffers $1.4B, economists project

A plan to grant a two-month sales tax holiday on select items purchased with “virtual currency” would save consumers boatloads of cash, but it’s not because Floridians would flock to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

State economists analyzing SB 352, sponsored by Sen. Jason Brodeur, a Sanford Republican, determined the measure would cost state coffers nearly $1.4 billion. The bill would give a sales tax holiday from June 1, 2025, to July 31, 2025, at gas stations, grocery stores, salons, barbershops, bars, nightclubs and spas if consumers paid using virtual currency.

But because the definition of “virtual currency” in state law is broad enough to include credit and debit card transactions, purchases using them would be included in the sales tax holiday by state administrators.

“The definitions provided for virtual currency don’t strongly exclude credit cards, debit cards, checks, ACH transfers, things like that, so the impact is very large as a result of that,” said Devlin Irwin, research economist for the Department of Revenue, during a meeting Friday by economists to score the proposal.

A report summarizing economists’ conclusions backs that up.

“As the definition of digital currency is vague to the inclusion of credit and debit cards, the Department of Revenue feels there is little recourse to prevent their inclusion, administratively,” the report from the Office of Economic and Demographic Research issued Friday states.

The bill passed unanimously through the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee last week, but the House version of the bill (HB 369) hasn’t received a hearing. Even though the $1.4 billion price tag could decrease its chances of making it into the final tax cut package bill, the revenue impact would fall during the 2025-2026 fiscal year because sales tax collections lag the actual economic activity, giving lawmakers more leeway to include it.

The House is poised to unveil its tax cut package later this week, while the Senate will release their version later in the Regular Session. The chambers will then negotiate over the final product, usually in tandem with formal budget talks. The 60-day Session is scheduled to end March 8.

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