Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has raised over $1.5 billion in taxes from Florida residents since taking office in 2018. DeSantis is known more for his culture wars than his tax policy, and, while the Republican head of state has been picking fights with Disney and the Special Olympics, his GOP-controlled legislature has been quietly raising the taxes of everyday citizens.
An analysis by Jason Garcia of Seeking Rents shows tax cuts for businesses have been subsidized by tax increases for Florida consumers.
One bill stands out in particular, Senate Bill 50 which forced online retail companies — Amazon in particular — to collect sales tax from customers and forward the revenue to the state, leading to over $1 billion in annual sales taxes that were not previously being paid.
DeSantis has denied that SB 50 “increased” taxes, but tires to explain it away by referring to it as just an enforcement of a previously unenforced existing tax.
“The bill did not create a new tax because the tax obligation already existed on the consumer to remit payment to the state for online sales tax,” DeSantis said.
Signed just last year, SB 50 has added around $2.6 billion in additional payments from Florida consumers. But it didn’t just increase taxes on online consumers, the legislation also lowered tax payments that fund unemployment benefits and gave businesses a permanent rent tax reduction from 5.5 % to 2.0 %.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, nearly 100% of businesses in Florida pay zero income tax. With the largest 100 corporations – or top 1% – getting the lion’s share of savings. The biggest break to date came with 2019’s House Bill 7127, which gives corporations a $2.7 billion tax cut and a tax refund of over $600 million.
New: The DeSantis administration has started sending $625 million in tax refunds to Florida's biggest and most profitable corporations.
Ninety-nine percent of Florida businesses won't get a dime.
But 10 corporate giants will get $11 million each:https://t.co/xGPQKjdexA
— Jason Garcia (@Jason_Garcia) April 7, 2022
A study by the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy (IETP), reveals that Florida’s tax system is ranked in the bottom ten in the nation – 48th out of 50 – with the lowest-income taxpayers paying roughly five times more than the rate paid by the wealthiest in the state. For example, according to IETP research, someone making less than $20,000 a year will pay nearly 13% of their income in combined state and local taxes, with those making over half a million contributing a little over two percent.
DeSantis opted out of federal law to impose taxes on corporate profits moved overseas – saving Florida big businesses $100 million. While there has been legislation geared at helping the rest of Floridians — tax-free shopping days for school clothes and supplies and an upcoming gas tax holiday beginning in October – there’s a huge difference between saving $11.00 and being refunded $11 million. And by revoking Disney’s special district status, Floridians will be on the hook for $163 million more by 2023.
If the Republican Party decides that DeSantis will replace Donald Trump as their 2024 presidential candidate, as many political analysts expect, Americans can expect a similar tax scheme — heavily favoring the already wealthy and big business — foisted upon them by a party with little regard for anyone who’s not a millionaire or better.
Original reporting by Jason Garcia at Seeking Rents.
Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick