TaxWatch COVID-19 Taxpayer Task Force
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many, many problems for the people of Florida and their government at all levels. While the government’s response has and must continue to take many forms – from public safety mandates to public health interventions – and been costly to public coffers, the taxpayer burdens created by the pandemic must be an important component that has not yet received appropriate attention.
When businesses are without customers and people are without jobs, tax burdens become amplified. For many taxpayers, paying tax bills will be difficult, if not impossible. With layoffs, sick leave, and remote working depleting companies’ tax administration staff, the compliance burden also increased. Other questions sprang up as the virus took hold. What is massive unemployment going to do to Reemployment Assistance Taxes? What about the increased costs for businesses to protect their employees and customers? What can be done to help some of the economic sectors and workers most severely impacted? How can we help the economy and Floridians bounce back?
Therefore, in close partnership with our volunteer leadership and network of subject matter experts and business partners, Florida TaxWatch formed the COVID-19 Taxpayer Task Force to discuss opportunities and options to help Florida recovery and ease the burdens created by the pandemic on Florida taxpayers.
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.
The Task Force and Florida TaxWatch recognize that there are other policy challenges that must be addressed to help the state fully recover from the pandemic (e.g. eviction and housing needs, healthcare costs, unemployment, etc.), but the Task Force was brought together to identify specific tax policy issues, and this report is focused on that policy area.
The success of Florida’s economy may hang on the decisions made in the next several months, and it is our sincere hope that the Governor, Cabinet, Legislature, state agency leadership and local officials take the following recommendations as a starting place to determine the best course of action on tax policy for the state moving forward.