by Pat Raia
Some home improvement items that would help seniors stay in their homes rather than relocate to assisted living facilities would be exempt from sales and use taxes under a pair of bills introduced into the Florida Legislature last month.
Introduced in the State Senate by Sen. Lori Berman on Dec. 7, 2020, SB 244 would exempt bed transfer handles selling for $60 or less; bed rails selling for $110 or less; and grab bars selling for $100 or less from sales tax when purchased for a noncommercial home or for personal use.
The measure was referred to the Senate's Children, Families, and Elder Affairs; Finance and Tax and Appropriations committees.
A twin bill HB 81 was introduced into the Florida House of Representatives by Rep. Joseph A. Casello on Dec. 16.
The bill would help seniors stay in their homes safely and longer, he said.
“Our seniors have been through a lot this past year and we owe it to them to do everything we can to make independent living possible and affordable,” Casello said in a social media posting.
The Florida Council on Aging's (FCOA) Colette Vallee said that the agency supports passage of the legislation.
“Bed rails, shower seats and grab bars are simple tools that promote safety and independence,” Vallee said on behalf of the FCOA. “This good bill will support Floridians and allow them to age in place with dignity.”
Meanwhile, seniors are not the only Floridians who would benefit from the bills' passage. The measure’s language indicates that anyone who has a disability including those recovering from surgery and wounded veterans would also benefit from the legislation.
Even so, economics may ultimately determine the legislation's success, Barman said.
“Tax exemptions are going to be tough in a difficult budget year, but I am hopeful as this legislation benefits the elderly and disabled individuals and groups that have been hit hard by COVID,” she said.
SB224 and HB81 are on the Legislature's 2021 docket.
If passed, both bills would become effective on Jan. 1, 2022.