A new ad blasts Gov. Ron DeSantis for signing a billion-dollar tax hike “when no one was looking.”
The video spot from Florida Watch slams the online tax collection bill signing as a regressive tax. The Governor signed the legislation (SB 50) on April 19, the last possible day to do so before it became law without his signature, at about 20 minutes until midnight.
Splicing pictures of DeSantis, commentary from The Young Turks host Ana Kasparian and ominous voiceovers from a male narrator, the ad casts the change in Florida tax code as a corporate giveaway on the backs of consumers.
“In the middle of the night, Gov. DeSantis signed a law that will cost Floridians an estimated $1 billion a year,” the narrator states. “The extra $1 billion you’ll be paying will only be used to cut taxes for already wealthy corporations.”
The ad prominently features Rep. Anna Eskamani, an Orlando Democrat.
“It raises taxes on everyday people and doesn’t actually direct that money toward everyday people,” she said.
State revenue estimators predict collecting sales tax online at the point of sale will generate a $973.6-million boost in general revenue funds in the 2021-2022 fiscal year and a $1.08 billion boost each year afterward.
The legislation signed into law will direct the money raised into the unemployment trust until it reaches pre-pandemic levels. That will avoid an automatic increase in the per-employee unemployment taxes owed by employers. The trust was depleted early in the coronavirus pandemic by a flood of new claims.
Once the trust goes back up again, the state will use the revenue to cut the commercial rent tax in Florida from 5.5% to 2%.
Of note, most Democrats in the Legislature favored the collection of the tax, billed as e-fairness for requiring collection of the tax by e-commerce retailers that brick-and-mortar stores collect at the cash register. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 determined states could require sales tax collection in the South Dakota v. Wayfair decision, and Florida was the second to last state to charge it.
But the Republican Legislature designated how revenue would be spent, ensuring the revenue would only be used to ease corporate and business taxes while Florida’s unemployment payments remain among the lowest in the nation.
“He (DeSantis) is implementing a regressive tax, meaning that it’s a tax that everyone has to pay into regardless of what their income is,” Kasparian says in the ad, “which means that if you’re poor it’s going to negatively impact you and your ability to buy things you need for yourself and your family. And he did that in order to prevent businesses from having to pay more in taxes.
“He gave businesses a tax cut while increasing taxes on consumers in the state.”
Notably, DeSantis showed reluctance throughout the Legislative Session about the tax and did not include the revenue in his own proposed budget. Many expected DeSantis would allow the legislation to become law without his signature, and the same day he signed the bill he had a high-profile ceremony around the signing of an anti-rioting bill.