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Florida Tightens Tax Incentives

by William C. Coleman III, Orlando, June 2013

 

Florida will be taking a serious look at business tax incentives after lawmakers passed new legislation and Governor Rick Scott signed it into law.

 

Included are more stringent regulations for companies that receive Brownfield economic development tax breaks.

 

SB 406

 

Senate Bill 406 requires the Office of Economic and Demographic Research and the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability to develop a program to evaluate many of the current tax incentives and report on how they are impacting Florida's business climate and economic development.

 

By January 1, 2014 and every three years after, the following programs will be analyzed:

 

  • Brownfield Redevelopment Bonus Tax Refund

  • Enterprise Zone Program

  • Capital Investment Tax Credit

  • Targeted Industry Tax Refund

  • High-Impact Sector Performance Grants

  • Quick Action Closing Fund

  • Innovation Incentive Program

 

Then, by January 1, 2015 and every three years after, tax incentives for the entertainment and tourism industry will be targeted.

 

Brownfield Rules

 

Florida's Brownfield rules were established in 1997 as a way to clean up and re-develop polluted areas. Businesses receive tax credits if they agree to clean up contamination. The rules were vaguely written and only required a perception of contamination, rather than actual proof.

 

According to the Orlando Sentinel, businesses received as much as $11 million in Brownfield tax breaks in 2011 and part of 2012. Many of these companies built on land that local officials say doesn't appear to be contaminated. The new law requires companies to be on or next to a property where a pollution cleanup agreement with the government is in place.

 

Local governments have designated 231,537 acres as Brownfield areas but cleanup agreements are only in place for 3,926 acres. Businesses already approved for tax refunds and those who made application before SB 406 was signed into law will still be able to get them.