House wants to swap property tax for higher sales tax BY Roxanne Escobales02/21/07
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday
House to ask voters to trade property tax for more sales tax
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Florida homeowners could see their property tax bills drop by nearly 20 percent this year under a House Republican plan that would also give voters the option of abolishing the property tax on primary homes, and replacing it with a higher sales taxes.
The proposal released today would also limit the amount of tax local governments could collect each year unless local elected officials unanimously agree to raise more.
House Speaker Marco Rubio unveiled the proposal, which calls for a special election later this year where voters would be asked to eliminate all property taxes on homestead property. That's the primary residence on which a person has a homestead exemption. Taxes would still be paid on vacation or second homes.
If voters approve the elimination of the property tax, the state sales tax would be increased to eight and a half pennies on the dollar, up from the current six pennies. That's aimed at helping local governments absorb the impact of losing property tax revenue.
Critics say higher sales tax would unfairly impact the poor. And retailers are concerned that an 8 and a half percent sales tax would discourage people from shopping.
Polk County Commissioner Bob English called the Republican proposal “dumb” and said it would be a “disaster.”
Democratic state representative Rick Kriseman from Pinellas County sat on the St Petersburg City Council for the past six years until his move to Tallahassee this January. He told WMNF that the bodies most likely to be affected by Rubio’s proposals were not heard from during discussions on the latest proposal.
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If voters approve abolishing homesteaded property tax in exchange for a two and a half cent rise in the sales tax, then Florida would have the highest sales tax rate in the nation at 8 and a half cents.