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 - The Zika Virus Will Place Additional Strain on the Next State Budget

In addition to the serious public health risk for Floridians, the Zika virus is also creating risk for the already tight state budget outlook for next year. Although a $1.1 billion federal funding package was approved by Congress in late September, Florida has yet to receive any of this aid, nor has the amount of the state’s allocation been confirmed.

Governor Scott, using his executive authority, has had to dip into state reserves to help fund Florida’s Zika detection and prevention efforts. To date, $61.2 million in General Revenue funding has been authorized. In addition, several state agencies are using existing resources to help in the effort. Costs may rise and there will likely be new Zika-related appropriations in the next state budget. Then there is the potential harm Zika can cause for the tourism industry, which will negatively affect the state’s economy and the sales taxes Florida depends so heavily on to fund the state budget.

In last month’s Budget Watch, Florida TaxWatch reported that the new state Long Range Economic Outlook forecast that the 2017 Legislature would have only $7.5 million to spend on new initiatives, after a continuation budget was funded. Moreover, Florida faced budget shortfalls of more than $1 billion in both of the subsequent two years. The first Zika-related allocation of $27.2 million was included in that forecast, but two later allocations totaling $34.0 million were not.

This makes it more certain that the Legislature will have to make significant reductions to the current budget to fund any new initiatives for next year.

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