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.