TAKE ACTION: When is, a tax increase a tax increase?

If the tax you pay this year is higher than the tax you paid last year, that is a tax increase. To say otherwise is like denying gravity.

For the second year, Governor Scott wants to increase spending on education on the backs of property owners and has proposed an education budget of $21 billion. Of the $21 billion education budget, almost half would come from the “required local effort” portion of your property taxes. Florida property owners will see a $558 million property tax increase from last year.

Last session the Florida legislature declined to use the tax money from property owners and funded the increase for education from other sources. They also used the roll back rate to keep property taxes down.

Governor Scott trying to counter the opposition for using increased property taxes for education funding recently made this analogy:

“I would assume those same people then are going to propose reducing sales tax when they see a consumer good go up in price also, because under their scenario, that would be a tax increase, I presume.”

Here is the problem with his analogy;

1. We are not forced to buy a consumer product at any given time, consumers can wait for prices to come down. In the marketplace, prices go up and as quickly can come down. You can also shop around for lower prices for the products you want. When you own property, you are at the mercy of the local and state government to decide how much property tax you will pay.

2. It can be problematic when government becomes dependent on rising property values to increase funding for education. The problem with this plan is when property values go down (remember 2008), leaving government with less money and then they are faced with either cutting funding for education or raising taxes.

3. Governor Scott also claimed that you should be happy to pay more property taxes because that means your property has gone up in value. Well, that is only good if you are planning to sell soon or go into debt with the extra equity, which destroyed many property owners in 2008. But, if you are planning to stay in the same home and you are on a fixed income, higher property taxes hurt.

4. Ironically, last session Governor Scott complained that using the increased property tax revenue was not a tax increase, but when the Florida legislature did not accept his plan and instead rolled back property taxes, Governor Scott then claimed it as part of his tax cuts.

Liberty First Network recommends the Florida legislature use the roll back rate to keep property taxes down and cut wasteful spending to find the funds for education. For example, the legislature could cut funding for Enterprise Florida to find some of the revenue for education.

We should also recognize just spending more money does not guarantee better education results. Florida continues to spend more money on education with little improvement of our children’s education. We all want the best education for our children, but it becomes too easy for politicians to claim they improved education by just increasing funding.

We also recommend that the Florida legislature take the opportunity of this debate to begin a discussion of our complicated and unfair property tax system. Two neighbors owning the same exact type of home can pay quite different property taxes. One neighbor can pay twice as much or more than his neighbor depending on how long they have owned the home.

TAKE ACTION

1. Call and E-mail Governor Rick Scott and let him know that he should cut wasteful spending instead of increasing the tax burden on the homeowners of Florida.

Gov Rick ScottPhone: (850) 488-7146 / E-mail: GovernorRick.Scott@eog.myflorida.com

2. Call and E-mail Representative Carlos Trujillo (Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee) and Senator Jack Latvala (Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee) and tell them the Florida legislature should use the roll back rate to keep property taxes down and cut wasteful spending to find the funds for education. For example, the legislature could cut funding for Enterprise Florida to find some of the revenue for education. 

Senator Jack Latvala / Phone: (850) 487-5016 / E-mail: latvala.jack.web@flsenate.gov

Rep Carlos Trujillo / Phone: (850) 717-5105 / E-mail: carlos.trujillo@myfloridahouse.gov

3. Contact your State House Representative and State Senator and let them know where you stand on this issue. CLICK HERE to find your State House Representative  and CLICK HERE to find your State Senator and let them know where you stand.

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