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Florida Governor Proposes Tax Cuts

by William C. Coleman III, Orlando, October 2014

 

Governor Rick Scott is promising Florida residents a $1 billion package of cuts in taxes and fees. He made a 28-city campaign bus tour in September to promote the cuts as part of his re-election campaign.

 

Included in the proposals is a ballot measure that would keep property taxes from rising when assessed values stay the same or drop, and a phase out of the sales tax on commercial leases.

 

The Devil is in the Details

 

A campaign spokesman would not say whether commercial properties and vacation homes would be included in the governor's proposed constitutional amendment to prevent property tax increases.

 

Analysts say if the cap is only for homesteads, it would put an added tax burden on commercial property owners. Since the proposal is a constitutional amendment, it must first be approved by lawmakers and then by 60% of voters.

 

Will the Legislature Agree?

 

Some of Governor Scott's ideas are not new and have been rejected by the legislature in the past. Last spring, he proposed phasing out the 6% sales tax on commercial leases but the plan went nowhere. Scott also proposed a sales tax exemption for new manufacturing equipment last year. But in the end, the legislature approved only a limited exemption for three years.

 

A Campaign Gimmick?

 

Critics of the governor's plan charge he's promising to lower taxes as a political ploy to get re-elected.

 

"Unfortunately, we find ourselves in the middle of political season when things are said that can't be backed up," Rep. Mark Pafford told the Herald/Times. "If Scott commits to a billion dollars in tax cuts, where do you find that? It's a campaign gimmick to increase his votes."