The House intends to offer a $1 billion tax-cut package that includes Gov. Rick Scott’s call to reduce a tax on commercial leases and holding a back-to-school sales tax “holiday.”
The package might also include lifting sales taxes for small businesses at the start of the Christmas shopping season, a proposal House members have sought the past two years.
Scott has made one of his top priorities passing $1 billion in tax cuts, imploring lawmakers for support during his annual State of the State address Tuesday. The governor also has undertaken a bus tour of the state this week to push for the tax cuts and a request for $250 million in business-recruitment incentives
But parts of the House package might different from Scott’s request.
In a brief update Thursday, Finance & Tax Chairman Matt Gaetz said he intends to propose a small-business tax holiday — to be offered the Saturday after Thanksgiving — along with the commercial-lease tax reduction and back-to-school tax holiday.
Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, said he plans to take the tax-cut plan to the House floor during the fifth week of the 60-day legislative session.
After his committee met, Gaetz said he expects a proposed cut in the commercial-lease tax “will be a centerpiece of the House’s tax plan this year.” A 1 percentage-point reduction in the tax would be projected to account for $339 million in savings for business owners over the next two years.
Asked about Scott’s biggest ticket item, the proposed elimination of income taxes for manufacturing and retail businesses, projected as a $770 million reduction in annual state revenue, Gaetz simply responded, “We’re looking at it.”
Gaetz gave support to Scott’s call to permanently eliminate a tax on manufacturing equipment. The tax was lifted for three years by lawmakers but is scheduled to return in 2017.
“I agree with the governor that if we do not take action to eliminate forever the tax on manufacturing sales and use, that will be a tax increase, and we’re not in the business of raising taxes,” Gaetz said.
The House is expected to be more generous than the Senate with its tax-cut proposals, with the two chambers having to work out differences late in the legislative session.
Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, has said the Senate will consider a minimum of $250 million in tax cuts. When asked this week about the issue, he said that “at some point you come down to how much, but also which ones?”
Gardiner added that the governor has made strong cases on tax cuts and economic-development incentives, but that Scott needs to meet with each senator to discuss the proposals.
Last year, the House initially proposed $690 million in cuts before a final package was signed by Scott that topped $400 million over two years. The package featured reductions in taxes on cell-phone bills, cable TV bills, gun club memberships, college textbooks and luxury boat repairs.
This year, senators have expressed concerns about tax cuts coming from permanent, or “recurring,” revenue sources.
Scott’s plan would eliminate more than $1.18 billion in recurring revenue.
Gaetz said his committee is “still working on how to blend” recurring tax cuts with one-time reductions.
–Jim Turner, News Service of Florida