At the end of Jan. 2014, Florida Gov. Rick Scott released his “It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget” for fiscal year 2014-2015. As he repeated when he unveiled his budget, Gov. Scott’s tenure has focused on cutting taxes, reducing spending, and reducing debt. It is, therefore, not surprising that there are already three pre-filed bills related to tax reductions—SB 110, SB 140, and SB 138—for consideration in Florida’s 2015 legislative session only one month after he was reelected in the November midterms.
According to her press release, Sen. Dorothy L. Hukill filed this trio of tax relief bills in an effort to “reduce the tax burden on Florida's families and help businesses create jobs.”
SB 110, communications services tax
Sen. Hukill’s release promises that SB 110 “will reduce the tax burden paid by Floridians on their cell phones, fax machines, cable and satellite TVs by 2%.” Citing the Tax Foundation’s Wireless Taxation in the United States 2014 (Report), the senator conceded that Floridians currently pay the fourth highest combined state and local tax rates in the nation. The Report shows that as of July 2012, Florida’s wireless tax, fee, and surcharge burden amounts to 22.38 percent, whereas Americans pay an average of 11.23 percent in state and local tax and fees on wireless service.
SB 140, commercial lease sales tax
The release informs Florida businesses that SB 140 will reduce the amount they pay in state sales tax on their commercial leases by one percent. This supports Gov. Scott’s budget cut of “around $100 million…to give small businesses more money to invest in their own future.”
SB 138, corporate income tax
SB 138 “will eliminate or reduce the corporate tax liability paid by many businesses throughout our state by increasing the corporate income subject to taxation from $50,000 to $75,000” according to the release.
While applauding the fact that Floridians do not pay personal income tax, the Tax Foundation’s 2015 State Business Tax Climate Index (Index) laments Florida’s alternative minimum tax on corporations. Even so, in the Index, Florida ranks fifth overall, after considering its corporate tax rate of 5.5 percent (ranked #14 in the category), lack of individual income tax (#1), sales tax rate of six percent (#12), unemployment insurance tax rate of 5.4 percent maximum (#13), and property tax rate of 3.45 percent of personal income (#16).
In the end, Sen. Hukill maintains that “[t]hese bills will provide much needed tax relief for Florida's families and businesses as we continue to strengthen and expand our economy. The continued goal is to make Florida the best place to live, work, and raise a family.”