TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – March 4, 2014 – Tax cuts – including a reduction in the sales tax charged on commercial leases – was the focus of Gov. Rick Scott’s State of the State address this morning. The speech marks the beginning of the 2014 legislation session.
“If we continue to cut taxes on small businesses by cutting the tax on business leases, we can make Florida not just the land of 700,000 new jobs. We will make Florida the land of opportunity,” the governor said. His proposed $74.2 billion budget includes $100 million to lower the sales tax charged on commercial leases and other Common Area Maintenance fees, such as janitorial and landscape services.
Florida is the only state in the nation that collects a sales tax on commercial rent. This tax discourages new businesses and holds back about 185,000 new jobs every year, according to a by Orlando-based Fishkind and Associates. Two bills would begin a phase out of the tax: SB 176 by Sen. Dorothy Hukill (R-Port Orange) and HB 11 by Rep. Greg Steube (R-Bradenton) would lower the rate from 6 percent to 5 percent. Florida Realtors, NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Development Association, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and other business groups support the initiatives.
During the 60-day session, Florida Realtors will also advocate for funding of community homeless coalitions throughout the state. SB 1090/HB 979 by Sen. Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater) and Rep. Kathleen Peters (R-South Pasadena), respectively, would direct certain monies from the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Funds to homelessness programs. The bills would also provide challenge grants, matched by local governments or private organizations, to help with housing services for the homeless.
“Quality of life is crucial to vibrant, thriving communities,” said 2014 Florida Realtors President Sherri L. Meadows, CEO and team leader, Keller Williams, with market centers in Gainesville, Ocala and The Villages. “Florida Realtors applauds Sen. Latvala and Rep. Peters for sponsoring this important legislation.
“Since 2007, Florida has had the largest increase in the rate of homelessness in the nation,” Meadows continued. “Our children are especially vulnerable. During the 2011-2012 school year, Florida public schools identified nearly 64,000 students as homeless. By requiring in law that doc stamp tax monies flow to programs for the homeless, SB 1090/HB 979 can begin to reduce these numbers.”
Read more about Florida Realtors’ 2014 legislative priorities here.
© 2014 Florida Realtors