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Florida Governor Rick Scott has announced plans to cut $500 million in taxes and fees over the next two years in his budget proposals for the state.  On October 22nd, the Governor’s office released a white paper entitled “It’s Your Money Tax Cut Agenda” that lays out Governor Scott’s priorities for the 2014-2015 fiscal year budget he plans to transmit to the legislature early in 2014.  The stated goal of the three-step plan is that the “government spends tax dollars the way that Floridians would.”  The “It’s Your Money Tax Cut Agenda” includes Governor Scott’s goal to return $500 million to Florida taxpayers in reduced taxes and fees, cut at least $100 million from the state budget and reduce state debt.

Governor Scott recently embarked on a tour around Florida to hear from business owners and residents where the cuts should be made.  Currently, “It’s your Money Tax Cut Agenda” does not specify from where the $500 million in tax cuts will come.  However, many believe that cuts for businesses could include eliminating the 6% sales tax on commercial leases because Florida and New York City are the only places in the country that impose this particular tax. Florida realtors and commercial landlords are pushing for this cut.  Potential tax cuts for individuals could come in the form of expanding the very popular sale tax “holidays” (such as the “Back to School” tax holiday) or reducing the fees for vehicle registrations and drivers’ licenses, which were increased during the financial crisis to fill holes in the state’s budget.  The driver license and auto registration fee reduction is a priority of Senate Budget Chief Joe Negron, so it is likely to be in any bill the Legislature approves.  Another potential tax cut that could benefit both businesses and individuals is a reduction of the communications services tax that applies to service bills for every communications device (e.g., cable, home phone, internet, cell phone), which currently stands at 9.17% for a cable and phone service combination.

Florida business owners should take advantage of this opportunity to voice their opinions on where the tax cuts would be most beneficial, while Governor Scott and the Florida legislature continue to request suggestions.  Most of the key proposals will be firmed up by the beginning of 2014, so it is important to act quickly. We will continue to update the Governor’s budget proposals and related developments.  If you or your business has an issue you would like to place before the Governor and legislature, please contact rrodriguez in the Miami office or jweinberg in the West Palm Beach office.

Click here for more information on Governor Rick Scott's tax cut agenda.