The following is a compilation of the tax and fee increases, bond issues, proposed exemptions, and selected other significant fiscal referenda that go before Florida voters on November 3.
This report is part of our larger How Florida Compares series, which is intended to help Floridians better understand their state through data. This report, like each report in this series, provides neutral, nonpartisan information on where Florida ranks compared to our 49 sister states and the national average.
Made up of public policy professionals, tax and budget experts, and leaders of both small and large businesses, the Task Force was established to identify those areas of state tax policy that could be addressed both immediately and in the long term to provide Florida’s businesses—and their employees and customers—appropriate relief and assistance.
As Florida continues its battle with the COVID-19 pandemic, the state has released General Revenue (GR) collections data for June (the last month of the FY19-20 fiscal year).1 Collections came in $427.8 million (13.4 percent) below estimate, following losses of $878.1 million (29.4 percent) in April and $779.6 million (26.4) percent in May. Because collections were running a bit above estimate before the pandemic hit, the $2.1 billion loss in the last quarter puts Florida down $1.9 billion (5.7 percent) for the year.
Floridians’ tax burden is going to decrease but so is our ability to pay for it
Every year, right around the usual April 15 deadline to pay your federal taxes, Florida TaxWatch releases our Taxpayer Independence Day report. This marks the symbolic date that Floridians are finally earning money for themselves–not for the government. This assumes that every dollar earned since January 1 goes to pay federal, state, and local tax obligations. This measure of tax burden is based on the relative size of all taxes paid in Florida to our state’s total personal income and serves as a gauge for how fast government is growing versus our ability to pay for it.
It appears the 2020 Legislature will cut taxes again. As has been a recent practice, the House Ways & Means Committee developed a package of tax cuts and other tax-related provisions, while the Senate has moved individual tax bills through committee. We likely will not see the Senate’s full tax proposal until the House bill (HB 7097) reaches the Senate floor and it offers an amendment.
Florida Shouldn’t “Eat Our Seed Corn” by Diverting Tourist Development Tax Revenue
Tourist Development Taxes (TDTs) play a vital role in Florida counties’ promotion of tourism in their areas. Over the years, the Legislature has added more and more authorized uses of this revenue, diluting the funding available for tourism promotion and advertising. During the 2020 session, efforts to further expanded the authorized uses are continuing. The “slippery slope” warning raised by the tourism industry and Florida TaxWatch in the past has become a reality.
Local taxing and spending is a major part of Florida government operations. More than half of all Florida government revenue (53.1 percent) is raised at the local level, one of the highest shares in the nation. Florida’s 66 county governments (plus Jacksonville’s consolidated government), more than 400 municipal governments, and approximately 1,000 independent special districts spend nearly $80 billion annually. This report compares the magnitude and makeup of Florida’s local governments’ fiscal operations. It does not attempt to compare or evaluate levels of service.
The 2019 Edition of this annual pocket guide gives taxpayers and elected officials great insight as to how Florida's taxes compare to other states and the national average across a wide variety of metrics.
On Thursday, May 2, the Senate took up the tax package passed by the House (HB 7123) and adopted a strike-all amendment that put the Senate package on the bill. It kept many of the provisions (with some changes), added some new provisions, and removed one controversial provision, and changed another.
On Sunday, April 14, Florida TaxWatch joins the taxpayers in our state in celebrating Florida Taxpayer Independence Day 2019. On that day, Floridians are finally earning money for themselves–not for the tax collector. This symbolic date assumes that every dollar earned since January 1 goes to pay federal, state, and local tax obligations.
Florida TaxWatch has researched this issue for more than 15 years, producing numerous reports and offerings recommendations. But the courts’ physical presence requirement has always been a major obstacle. But now that obstacle is gone as a result of the US Supreme Court’s Wayfair decision, and it is time for the Legislature to fix this. Senate Bill 1112 can achieve this long-elusive goal.
The non-collection of sales taxes on sales to Florida customers by remote (out-of-state) sellers has been the most significant tax compliance and collection issue facing Florida and other states for many years. Remote vendors sell products by the internet, telephone, and mail. Historically, the courts have held that when a remote seller makes a sale to a person in a state in which the seller does not have a physical presence, that state cannot require the seller to collect the sales tax due and remit it to the state.
Since the enactment of the Communications Services Tax (CST) Simplification Act in 2001, Florida TaxWatch has released several reports recommending that the Legislature reduce this burdensome and highly regressive tax on consumers. Florida’s CST is very high, relative to both other states and the sales tax on the purchase of other goods. This high rate makes the tax punitive and distortionary, and makes the state less competitive than other states, including the potential for reducing investment in broadband network infrastructure.
Public Notice of Important Property Tax Changes should not be Diminished
The TRIM process is a vital taxpayer protection tool and we should continually strive to make it better. Lessening the ability of taxpayers to access this information weakens the law. Taxpayers deserve to get concise, accurate and unvarnished information about how local government decisions affect the property taxes that they pay.
A proposed constitutional amendment initiative that would destructure Florida’s energy market may appear on the November 2020 general election ballot that would (if approved) radically change Florida’s energy market. This independent analysis estimates the financial impacts of deregulation on tax revenues and to help Florida taxpayers better understand the effects of the proposed deregulation.
On November 6, 2018, Floridians voted on 12 proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution. Eleven of the 12 passed with at least a 60 percent majority, all but Amendment 1, which would have provided an additional $25,000 homestead property tax exemption. But the amendments were not the only thing that voters had to agree on. In addition to the amendments, voters across Florida chose to put in place a number of local tax measures and new bond issues.
Proposed Homestead Exemption Benefits Relatively Few Floridians and Will Likely Increase Taxes on Everyone Else
Floridians will be voting on as many as 13 state constitutional amendments on November 6, 2018. The first on the list, Amendment 1 (A1), would create a new $25,000 homestead exemption from property taxes.
The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a ruling that paves the way for a successful resolution to an issue Florida TaxWatch has fought for more than 15 years.
The 2018 Edition of this annual pocket guide gives taxpayers and elected officials great insight as to how Florida's taxes compare to other states and the national average across a wide variety of metrics.
Saturday, April 14, Florida TaxWatch joins the taxpayers in our state in celebrating Florida Taxpayer Independence Day 2018. On that day, Floridians are finally earning money for themselves–not for the tax collector. This symbolic date assumes that every dollar earned since January 1 goes to pay federal, state, and local tax obligations.
The House unveiled its 2018 tax cut package (HB 7087) almost a month ago, while the Senate’s did not appear until week 8 of
the session when it was amended onto SB 620 in the Appropriations Committee. The bills have a lot of similarities, but there are big differences that will have to be negotiated before a final tax cut package is approved.
On February 14, 2018, the House Ways & Means Committee unveiled and passed its proposed tax cut package. The bill contains numerous tax relief provisions, covering sales taxes, property taxes, corporate income taxes, documentary stamp taxes and traffic fines. Several temporary exemptions to provide tax relief for agriculture and homeowners impacted by hurricanes are included.
The 2018 Legislature has an opportunity to strengthen and increase the independence of an important taxpayer safeguard—the Florida Taxpayers’ Rights Advocate. Senate Bill 826 and House Bill 1345 would make the needed changes to the law.
As the Florida Legislature prepares to go into conference budget negotiations to finalize the FY2018-19 budget, state estimators gave lawmakers a bit of good news. Florida’s General Revenue (GR) Estimating Conference met on February 9 and forecast that the state would collect an additional $461.8 million in FY2017-18 and FY2018-19.