The return to conservative principles under Gov. Rick Scott has resulted in the drastic reduction of tax burdens on Floridians. While Florida has long been known as a haven for those seeking a low-tax lifestyle, the current administration has rendered this reputation truer than ever. Under Scott, the state legislature has passed numerous bills enacting sound tax cuts tailored to benefit the quality of life for the state’s residents. Essential to accelerating job creation, reducing costs on goods and services fundamental to living and doing business in Florida has been a staple of the Scott agenda.
This cost-cutting strategy has proven beneficial to businesses and individuals alike, with reduced costs of operation reflected in lower prices for consumers. Scott’s annual push to further curb the stifling business rent tax as well as burdensome regulations epitomizes his commitment to incentivizing business incorporation while simultaneously lowering the cost of goods and services.
The recent passage of House Bill 7109 mirrored the philosophy that has come to typify the governor’s approach to taxation, reducing the financial burden on the most vulnerable Floridians while providing for the revenue necessary for maintenance of government operations and infrastructural improvements. Were it not for pushback from the state Senate, Scott would have scaled back certain taxes even further.
The impact of these tax breaks cannot be overstated with the new fiscal year rapidly approaching on July 1. The bill constitutes one-time tax reductions totaling $45 million in addition to $134.7 million in recurring tax cuts, according to Florida TaxWatch.
Scott’s Florida-first approach to taxation shines through in several specific cuts, with the Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday being one of the first that comes to mind. This one-time “holiday” establishes a three-day window from June 2 to the June 4 within which items such as self-powered lights and radios, portable generators, fuel tanks, reusable ice and other hurricane-related provisions will be sold sans sales tax. This three-day cut alone is expected to save Florida residents and businesses $4.5 million.
A three-day Back to School Sales Tax Holiday aligns with Scott’s continued efforts to reinforce Florida’s commitment to its schools and students, while a discount on property taxes for property designated for affordable housing exemplifies the common-sense, all-encompassing manner in which these cuts were designed.
But the cornerstone of HB 7109, and perhaps the top priority of the Scott administration, is the cuts aimed at promoting business incorporation and longevity in Florida, in turn establishing jobs and opportunity for its residents both today and in the future.
A Research and Development (R&D) credit within the bill allays operating costs for qualifying businesses, increasing the attractiveness of the state’s commercial landscape. In addition, a sales tax exemption for numerous items used in agriculture is expected to free up approximately $2.6 million annually, a number that is sure to make Florida’s orange farmers smile.
Significantly, the bill continues the reduction of the business rent tax, the only state-sanctioned sales tax imposed on commercial leases in the entire nation, an ongoing pursuit of Gov. Scott. This rare and burdensome sales tax costs Florida-based businesses more than $1.7 billion annually, an untenable albatross that suppresses job creation and enterprise. In particular, small businesses and startup companies find their growth limited by this inescapable burden.
HB 7109 institutes a .2 percent reduction in tax on the sale of commercial leases and rent. This reduction from 6 percent to 5.8 percent is expected to save businesses in the state $61 million annually including $7 million in local revenue. While a step in the right direction, many, including governor Scott would like to see this number drastically reduced, if not eliminated. It is one of the few taxes levied by the state that defies Florida’s embrace of limited taxation.
Despite further gains to be made with regards to the business rent tax, HB 7109 indicates yet another step toward Floridians keeping more of their hard-earned money in their own pockets.