Tax talk ain’t sexy, but Florida’s burden is among the lowest

By William Patrick | Florida Watchdog

Let’s face it, tax policy is about the least sexy topic on planet Earth.

Few would disagree. But just in case, try dazzling a single young beauty with erudite knowledge of Florida’s per capita tax and revenue rankings since the Great Recession.

Or try wooing a gentleman of leisure with a sophisticated grasp of how local governments increase Florida’s overall comparative tax ranking among other states.

There’s probably a better chance of passing a federal flat-tax than reaching second base.

Still, taxes matter. And tax gurus know that the lower the burden the more money residents have to spend or save.

In depth research by Florida TaxWatch, a Tallahasse-based nonprofit, has some good news for cash strapped Floridians — the state has one of the least burdensome tax environments in the country.

Low state taxes

Florida’s state tax collections fell by 17.6 percent from 2006 to 2012, the largest drop in the nation. In 2012, Florida ranked 47th in per capita tax burden.

Income

Florida is one of seven states without a personal income tax. Other states use personal income taxes to generate 35.3 percent of their government revenues, on average.

Revenue

Florida’s state revenue accounted for 6.2 percent of personal income. The national average was 8 percent.

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Local taxes

But local tax burdens in the Sunshine State are much higher than at the state level. Mostly because public services are funded locally. Florida’s per capita local taxes rank 22nd in the country.

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Who’s paying?

Businesses pay for more than half of all taxes in Florida, or 54 percent. The national average is 45 percent, according to Florida TaxWatch.

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Apparently, that hasn’t kept jobs at bay. According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the Florida unemployment rate is 6.2 percent. That’s the lowest rate since January 2008, and below the national average for the seventh consecutive month.

Lawmakers are also looking to continue the trend with $500 million in new 2014 tax cuts, including $400 million in reduced vehicle registration fees.

So, here’s to state tax policy. Talking about it may not get you many dates, but the extra cash never hurts.

Contact William Patrick at wpatrick@watchdog.org

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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