The conventions for the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee have both come to a close, and although both platforms differed greatly, one issue stood out in both — our tax system. I think we can all agree that an easier understandable formula and finding a system that will nurture growth will continue to be at the forefront of this discussion before and after November. Currently, the Federal Office of Management and Budget states that 47.4% of federal revenue comes from individual income tax and 35.5% is made up of payroll taxes. These numbers touch every American’s home, family and business. Understanding how you are taxed and where the money goes is paramount when engaging in debate and advocacy.
During the next several months, tax reform will be actively discussed in newspapers, on the radio and vetted in televised debates. As a member of the Florida House of Representatives, I want you to be aware of the federal tax issues, as well as Florida tax information. With that in mind, I want to share with you changes that were made to Florida’s tax system during the 2011 and 2012 session.
Understanding Florida’s finances is as important as understanding your own finances. The tax dollars spent by the government are your money. Telling your elected officials how that money is used is your right as a voter and citizen of the United States.
Keeping Florida a low-tax, low-cost state is vital to our state’s prosperity. During the last two sessions, we passed several pieces of legislation aimed at tax relief for Floridians. Florida is mindful of the importance of growing our existing businesses, and our community is focused on recruiting new opportunities for our area.
Florida tackles the tax fairness issue on two main fronts, sales tax and corporate income. Unlike the federal government, Florida is one of a handful of states that does not have an individual income tax. Coupled with changes made to Florida’s corporate income tax, our state wants to keep our money here in our community — not in Tallahassee.
In 2011, the Legislature raised the corporate income tax exemption from $5,000 to $25,000. This created a new interest in our state from abroad, and, locally, our businesses were able to reinvest at home. Due to the response from changes made in 2011, this year Florida doubled the corporate income tax exemption to $50,000. Florida’s Revenue Estimating Conference, in conjunction with the Office of Economic and Demographic Research, noted that a total 12,245 businesses have been able to focus funds on generating new growth instead of paying more taxes.
All that being said, you can’t just focus on business without addressing community tax relief, too. In November, you will have the opportunity to vote on tax breaks for our low-income seniors, homeowners and our veterans. These amendments to Florida’s Constitution would require 60% of the vote in November to be passed into law. Their implementation is up to you, the voter, not the Legislature.
Our community is a great place to live, raise a family and retire. It is up to you to decide if the amendments will aide our families, our community and our neighbors.
During these next few months, conversations will be charged with election and fiscal issues, and I hope that you found this information to be helpful. I encourage you to take the time to review and research information provided by the Office of Economic and Demographic Research, Florida Division of Elections and the Florida Department of Revenue. As always, my office is happy to assist you in getting answers for questions you or your business may have about information included in this article.
State Rep. Greg Steube represents Florida District 67.
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