Special Florida Tax Commission Seriously Considering Some Awful Reforms


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A Florida commission appointed primarily to examine the state's tax system has so far been a significant disappointment. Lying dormant for decades before assembling like cicadas every 20 years, the commission is empowered to propose changes to Florida law and to place constitutional amendments directly on the ballot. The commission is supposed to be an independent body removed from politics, but that's not obvious given the inequitable and unsustainable proposals that it's spending most of its time on.

Despite Florida's well-documented budget shortfalls, and the increasingly desperate attempts to fill them (see here, here, here, and here), many members of the commission remain committed to poorly targeted property tax cuts that will cripple state finances and will benefit the wealthy far more than those truly needing relief. The most recent bit of property tax "reform" proposed within the commission is a "super exemption" of 25% of a home's value from taxation. This would be available for all homes valued at over $50,000, and would be provided to homeowners regardless of their ability to pay their tax bills. The proposal would also extend more generous property tax cuts to businesses. It would also allow homeowners who benefit more from the existing (and convoluted) property tax relief system to retain those benefits rather than switching to the "super exemption".

As a small gesture to those concerned with the massive hit the state budget would take as a result of this change, the sales tax would be raised temporarily (for three years) to offset a portion of the cut. No solution for the inevitable revenue shortfalls beyond the first three years has been proposed.

The commission has until May 8 to make its final proposals. If the terms of the debate going on within the commission do not change by that time, May 8 could be a very troubling day for those concerned with tax justice and the adequate funding of state and local programs.

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