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Florida TaxWatch: Voters Approved $400 Million in Local Tax Increases

Voters also passed $250 million in new bond issues and 15 new property tax exemptions

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Florida TaxWatch (FTW) released its latest briefing, Local Tax Referenda on the November 2020 Ballot: What Passed?, providing commentary on the outcomes of local referenda considered by the voters on the 2020 general election ballot. This briefing follows Florida TaxWatch’s 2020 Voter Guide Special Edition: Local Tax Referenda report which was issued prior to the election and provided voters with a thoughtful analysis of these proposed ballot initiatives, tax increases, and new bond issues.

Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic M. Calabro said, “In years past we have seen taxpayers show a willingness to approve taxes they feel will provide a meaningful return and 2020 was no exception. Despite the year’s historic economic struggles and the future uncertainty of COVID-19, during the recent general election voters across Florida approved $400 million in city and county tax increases funding schools, emergency services, and public infrastructure. While many of the approved tax referenda created citizen oversight committees to monitor the spending of these new dollars, accountability truly begins with individual citizens. Florida TaxWatch encourages every taxpayer to stay involved and informed on government spending in their community.”

This year, voters in 19 counties approved 10 sales tax and 10 property tax increases worth $400 million. Most passed easily, with 11 tax increases receiving more than two-thirds (66.7 percent) of the vote. Only one proposed county-wide tax increase failed, a school sales tax extension in Liberty County that lost by only 17 votes. However, voters in Liberty County approved a second sales tax referendum for emergency fire services. Additionally, voters passed a new tourist development tax in north Walton County, $250 million in proposed bond issues, and several major spending issues. 

Voters also gave approval for nine county commissions and six municipal governing bodies to grant property tax exemptions to new and expanding businesses that are expected to create new, full-time jobs.

You can read the full Local Tax Referenda on the November 2020 Ballot: What Passed? briefing here.

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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