A Senate panel swiftly passed legislation that would cut taxes on Florida cell phone, cable and satellite plans.
Sponsored by Panama City Republican Sen. Jay Trumbull, SB 1432 would set the state’s Communications Services Tax (CST) at the same 6% rate as the statewide sales tax, a reduction of 1.44 percentage points from its current level.
The bill would also prevent local governments from increasing their local CST rate for the next three years. CST tax hikes by local governments have been common in recent years, with 113 of Florida’s 481 local jurisdictions raising rates since 2018. Local CST rates are as high as 7.96% in Florida, surpassing the current 7.44% charged by the state.
The CST is levied on all cell phone, landline, cable and satellite plans as well as subscriptions to digital streaming services. Those supporting the legislation say the CST’s ubiquity means any rate reduction would benefit a broad base of Floridians.
“It provides a tax cut for pretty much every household across Florida,” said Margaret Mire, the director of state government relations at Americans for Tax Reform.
The bill likewise has support from pro-business groups Associated Industries of Florida and the Florida Chamber of Commerce; cable industry association Florida Internet & Television; as well as nonpartisan government watchdog Florida TaxWatch. In aggregate, Floridians are expected to save $168.75 million if Trumbull’s bill becomes law.
The bill’s primary opposition is coming from the Florida Association of Counties, which argues it would result in local governments receiving less money through the Half-Cent Local Government Revenue Sharing Program, the County Revenue Sharing Program and the Municipal Revenue Sharing Program.
“We, particularly with the half-cent, are able to bond those dollars and provide local transportation and other important infrastructure with those dollars,” said FAC lobbyist Bob McKee, who asked Senators to consider the impacts on local government as the bill continues through the process.
Trumbull said he is “happy to work with the counties” as the legislation moves forward but that he doesn’t believe the impact will be significant.
“It just caps where (local CST rates) are today. It doesn’t say they have to reduce theirs. I think it’s just time to reduce the tax on tech,” he said.
SB 1432 now heads to the Senate Community Affairs Committee. The House companion (HB 1153) is awaiting a hearing in the Ways & Means Committee.