9 Actions Florida Should Take to Help Taxpayers Impacted by Hurricane Ian

1.     Postpone tax notices and waive penalties or interest for late tax filings in affected areas

2.     Extend the date for residents to take advantage of the tax discounts they would normally receive for paying property taxes and special assessments in November and postpone or defer the deadline for property tax installment payments

3.     Protect individual and business taxpayers from the risks for notices that they will likely not receive because their home or business addresses is not accessible anymore

4.     Issue no new audits in severely impacted areas, extend the statute of limitations and postpone existing audits that haven’t reached the assessment stage because these can’t be responded to while entire communities are still recovering

5.     Create procedures for fairly estimating taxes which can’t be calculated because records have been destroyed by the storm, moving away from the current method which significantly overestimates activity if no records are available

6.     Initiate procedures to offer payment plan assistance for late taxes, rather than resorting to the standard collection methods, like liens, levies, or bank freezes

7.     Retroactively apply the recently passed law that provides property tax refunds for residential property rendered uninhabitable as a result of a catastrophic event

8.     Provide tangible personal property relief and allow n on-residential properties rendered uninhabitable to receive property tax refunds

9.     Get Congress to pass a Disaster Tax Relief Act that includes provisions from past packages, including elements such as an Employee Retention Credit, an enhanced casualty loss deduction, and other relief provisions

Other Resources

Florida TaxWatch Statement on Hurricane Ian Recovery

Community Involvement

Budget Watch - 2016-17 Legislative Budget Requests

State Agencies Request a 3.0 Percent General Revenue Funding Increase for Next Year

Florida’s state government agencies have requested $77.835 billion in funding from the Legislature for FY2016-17, which is $1.2 billion (1.6 percent) more than these agencies are expected to spend in the current year. The total request is made up of $29.481 billion in general revenue (GR) and $48.354 billion in trust funds. The GR request is an increase of $854.5 million (3.0 percent). The latest revenue estimates forecast $31.653 billion in GR will be available for FY2016-17 meaning that the agency requests would leave GR reserves of $2 billion. The agencies’ Legislative Budget Requests (LBRs) are the first step in developing a budget for the next fiscal year. The Governor will use the LBRs in developing his budget recommendations. Agencies appear more optimistic about funding than they were last year, when they requested a smaller increase of $660.8 million (0.9 percent). While 22 agencies requested an increase in funding, eight agencies asked for less than they will spend this year, although three of those decreases are very small.

Even when agencies request increased spending for specific programs, total requests can be lower than current spending in large part due to non-recurring appropriations in the current budget (such as local projects and one-time grants), which are often not requested for the next budget. Agencies are also requesting 114,700 state employee positions, an increase of 1,083 positions (1.0 percent). Most of the increase comes from Justice Administration (State Attorneys and Public Defenders) and the Department of Corrections.

The next step in the budget process is the Governor’s budget recommendations, which will be released in November 2015 and will be analyzed in an upcoming Budget Watch. The agency LBRs are only requests, and the Governor can choose not to recommend individual components of the LBRs, he can adjust the amounts, and he can add his own initiatives. In addition, his expected tax cut recommendations will reduce the money available for appropriation. The Governor’s recommended budget will then be the starting point for legislative budget deliberations. The Legislature can make any changes it sees fit, including adding back items from the LBRs not recommended by the Governor.

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