McKay tries again to have sales tax exemptions reviewed

11/05/07 Mitch E. Perry
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Former Bradenton GOP state Sen. John McKay has tried a couple of times to have many of Florida’s sales tax exemptions reviewed as way of bringing fairness and equity into the tax structure. Now, as a member of the state’s Taxation and Budget Reform Commission, he’s trying again.

On Friday, McKay filed a proposed state constitutional amendment with the Commission that could cut property taxes up to 45 percent by eliminating some of those sales tax exemptions that mostly benefit businesses.

As president of the Florida senate earlier this decade, McKay tried to have the Legislature review the seemingly arbitrary tax exemptions that some businesses enjoy. But McKay always faced resistance, both inside the Legislature and outside of it, with the citizens initiative group he heads called Fairness Against Inequities in Rates (FAIR).

McKay says the need for fairness when it comes to property taxes will allow his proposal to be viewed with a different perspective.

Kurt Wenner is director of Tax Research at Florida Tax Watch, the nonpartisan research group that tracks taxation and public policy issues in the state. Although he hasn’t seen the final proposal, he says overall Tax Watch supports McKay’s goal.

One provision in previous versions of McKay’s proposal that Tax Watch does not support is a sunset on sales tax exemptions.

The Taxation and Budget Reform Commission is a 25-member group composed of business executives, elected officials and governor appointees that has been criss-crossing the same gathering information and tax reform proposals from citizens and experts.

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