As the COVID-19 pandemic heads toward its sixth month and the Sunshine State faces continued economic effects, Florida TaxWatch released its list of recommendations for economic recovery.
TaxWatch assembled its COVID-19 Taxpayer Task Force in May to gather recommendations to lessen “financial and administrative burdens” on taxpayers caused by the pandemic and help the economy recover. A list of 18 mostly temporary suggestions address the needs of impacted taxpayers while 11 suggestions could improve the economy in the long term by making it more attractive to business and new residents.
“Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in our state, Florida TaxWatch has worked vigorously to develop and propose constructive policy recommendations to guide Florida forward and ensure the best possible response to the fiscal uncertainty presented by this crisis,” TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic Calabro said in a statement.
Days before the start of the 2020-2021 fiscal year, Gov. Ron DeSantis stripped more than $1 billion from the state budget to account for the sudden economic freefall. A revision last week to the state’s projected revenue estimates it will make $3.4 billion less than expected before the pandemic hit.
For taxpayers, the task force recommended extending several tax deadlines and providing tax relief for businesses closed because of the virus. It also advocated for other incentives and grants, including a new grant program for businesses to cover past and future health precautions. The suggested grant, which the CARES Act could supplement, is based on Arkansas’ Ready for Business Grant Program.
Some recommendations for businesses have been TaxWatch’s repeated asks, including e-fairness legislation to collect sales tax from out-of-state online sellers. An analysis for one e-fairness bill (SB 126) last Session, filed again by Republican Sen. Joe Gruters, estimated the state could have generated $321 million in general revenue and cities and counties could have generated another $100 million his fiscal year.
The 29 recommendations cover eight areas: property taxes; state tax credits, incentives, and grants; sales saxes, corporate income taxes, the Reemployment Assistance tax, documentary stamp taxes, tax administration, and communications services tax.
“For more than 40 years Florida TaxWatch has served as the eyes and ears of taxpayers, fighting every day to protect their interests and the fiscal strength of our beloved state,” said TaxWatch Chairman and former Sen. Pat Neal. “Today, we continue this important work and proudly present the recommendations of our COVID-19 Taxpayer Task Force to Governor DeSantis, the Cabinet, the Florida Legislature, and the Florida Department of Revenue for consideration as we work together to get Florida back on its feet.”