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STATEMENT: With April Revenue Down $878M From Estimates Florida TaxWatch Implores Legislature to Act on E-Fairness, Seminole Compact

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Today, after a report from the Office of Economic and Demographic Research (EDR) showed Florida revenue collections for the month of April were down $878 million below estimates, and down more than $675 million year-to-date, Florida TaxWatch (FTW) President and CEO Dominic M. Calabro released the following statement urging the Florida Legislature to take action to properly collect lawfully owed sales and use taxes on internet sales (E-Fairness) and re-establish a gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe:

“Today’s report from the Office of Economic and Demographic Research is staggering and makes the economic toll of COVID-19 abundantly clear. With revenue collections for the month of April coming in at more than $878 million below estimates, our leaders must take action to remain accountable to the taxpayers of our state and set Florida on the right path forward. Florida TaxWatch has long supported E-Fairness legislation, and a gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe as important and significant sources of revenue and now, with the COVID-19 pandemic costing hundreds of millions in lost revenues, these changes are no longer just desirable, they are essential. We cannot afford continued inaction on these critical issues. Today, we again urge the Florida Legislature to take decisive action and activate these needed revenue sources which will increase collections dramatically and help ensure a strong recovery for the Sunshine State.”

According to EDR, net General Revenue (GR) collections for the month of April came in $878.1 million (29.4 percent) below estimates. This is the first month of data that shows a significant decrease in revenues due to the impact of COVID-19 on the state’s economy. April GR collections generally reflect March sales tax activity, so a further decline in May collections (reflecting April sales) can be expected.

Coming into April, GR collections were running $202.4 million above the estimate made in January 2020.  The decline in April collections, in addition to the previous revenue collection surplus of $202.4 million, means that GR is now $676.7 million under estimate year-to-date. It is worth noting that a significant portion of the decline is due to emergency orders delaying payment of some taxes or fees until June or later. These revenue sources (corporate income tax, corporate filing fees, and highway safety fees) were $323.1 million below estimates, accounting for 36.8 percent of the decline, and may be recouped in June, the last month of the current fiscal year. Florida’s significant reserves, as well as federal funding from the CARES Act, continue to be available for expenditures in the short-term, however with future and potentially larger revenue shortfalls expected, Florida TaxWatch will continue to monitor the state’s budget position.

About Florida TaxWatch
As an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit government watchdog and taxpayer research institute for more than forty years and the trusted eyes and ears of Florida taxpayers, Florida TaxWatch works to improve the productivity and accountability of Florida government. Its research recommends productivity enhancements and explains the statewide impact of fiscal and economic policies and practices on citizens and businesses. Florida TaxWatch is supported by its membership via voluntary, tax-deductible donations and private grants, and does not accept government funding. Donations provide a solid, lasting foundation that has enabled Florida TaxWatch to bring about a more effective, responsive government that is more accountable to, and productive for, the citizens it serves since 1979. For more information, please visit www.floridataxwatch.org.

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