Florida Tax Package

Florida Tax Package

Floridians would get sales-tax breaks before hurricane season and the new school year, while taxes on commercial leases and cell phones and other communications services would be trimmed, under a tax package rolled out Tuesday in the House.

It also calls for increasing a refund on aviation-fuel taxes, eliminating an unused pool of money for professional sports stadiums and expanding a tax-distribution requirement about charter schools.

A number of the tax proposals are moving as individual bills in the Senate, such as an aviation-fuel tax bill, a reduction in the communications services tax and a 10-day back-to-school tax “holiday”.

House Ways & Means Committee members expressed a desire for a deeper cut to the commercial-lease tax and the communications services tax, which is collected on cell phones, cable TV and home satellite services.

The largest part of the package is a proposed three-day back-to-school tax holiday in August, which would allow shoppers to avoid paying sales taxes on clothes that cost $60 or less, school supplies that cost $15 or less and the first $1,000 of the cost of personal computers.

The proposal is projected to save shoppers $41.8 million.

A disaster-relief tax “holiday” at the end of May would allow people to avoid sales taxes when buying items ranging from battery packages to portable generators, totaling a projected $5.6 million tax reduction.

The second largest projected amount of savings, $24.9 million, would come through a 0.5 percentage-point reduction in the communications services tax.

A proposal to cut the commercial-lease tax by 0.1 percentage point, to 5.4 percent would generate a $15.8 million savings next fiscal year. The commercial-lease tax has been a longtime target of business leaders.

Another $3.6 million reduction to state and local revenue would come through the aviation fuel refund. The proposal would expand a refund now available on the 4.27-cent-per-gallon excise tax on aviation fuel. The refund in the package would go from 1.42 cents per gallon to 2.38 cents per gallon.

Controversy about the charter school issue nearly scuttled a $121 million tax package approved in 2019. The issue involves distributing money from local half-cent sales taxes to charter schools.

They compromised by making the requirement apply to future referendums involving teacher pay and school security.

The program, which makes available $13 million a year in tax dollars for work involving professional stadiums and events administered by the Breeders’ Cup Limited and NASCAR. Amid House opposition over the years, the money has never been touched and stadium owners stopped applying a few years ago.

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