The prospects for passage of new property tax reduction legislation are looking dim in Florida, as the House and Senate must now reach a compromise between two competing measures. The House version compensates for the revenue lost from lower property taxes by raising the sales tax by as much as 2.5 cents. This tax swap idea is proving quite controversial, due to the regressive nature of the sales tax. Senate Republican leader Daniel Webster lead the charge against the House proposal, saying: "The sales tax is a regressive tax. And the more you raise it, the more regressive it becomes. The poor are going to get poorer, and the rich are going to get richer." The Senate proposal features a smaller property tax reduction, with no tax increase to offset the revenue loss.
One idea not under consideration in Florida is paying for a cut in property taxes by increasing income taxes. Just such a measure is being discussed in the Minnesota House. A few weeks ago, both the House and Senate passed legislation creating a fourth income tax bracket, although the rate differed slightly between the two bills. Now a new House proposal would pay for a property tax reduction and expanded tax credits for homeowners and renters with a 9.0 percent income tax rate for single taxpayers with incomes in excess of $250,000 or married couples with incomes above $400,000. This property-tax-for-income-tax swap would create a more progressive state tax system. By contrast, Florida lawmakers continue to refuse to debate instituting a state income tax, depriving themselves of a powerful tool for creating a more just and equitable tax structure.