As the Florida Legislature begins budget negotiations this week, Florida TaxWatch offered a proposal that would accelerate the replenishment of the Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund (UCTF) while also repealing the onerous and nationally unique Business Rent Tax (BRT) by October 1, 2022.
The Florida TaxWatch proposal includes:
Accelerate the Replenishment of the Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund
· Transfer $2.077 billion from General Revenue (GR) to the UCTF in October 2022. This money can come from unallocated reserves or the $3.5 billion in unappropriated federal recovery funds that the state is scheduled to receive soon. This will bring the UCTF balance to $4.0715 billion.
· Stop the monthly transfers from GR to the UCTF in October 2022.
Fully Repeal the BRT
· Repeal the entire BRT on October 1, 2022, saving Florida businesses and consumers $1.211 billion in fiscal year 2022-23, $1.667 billion in fiscal year 23-24, and $1.101 billion in fiscal year 24-25 alone.
Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic Calabro weighed in on the proposal on Wednesday.
“This proposal presents an opportunity for Florida legislators to take the state’s economic resurgence to the next level. It places Florida companies in a more competitive position, reduces overhead costs for thousands of small businesses, and utilizes more federal relief funds to grow our state’s economy. It’s a win-win for all Floridians,” Calabro said.
The National Federation of Independent Business’ Florida chapter is backing the proposal.
“Last year, the Florida Legislature voted to whittle the tax on business rentals down to two percent after the Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund was replenished, but Florida’s economy has rebounded to the point where the state can afford to totally eliminate the business rental tax in October 2022. Completely eliminating the business rental tax would give small businesses additional revenue they could use to expand, hire more people, and increase wages and benefits,” said NFIB State Executive Director Bill Herrle.
Currently, the UCTF is being replenished from GR produced through the passage of E-Fairness legislation, a long-time Florida TaxWatch priority that ensures the state collects legally due sales and use tax from online retailers. To date, nearly $1 billion has been transferred into the UCTF, and monthly transfers of $90 million are scheduled to begin in July of this year. Fully replenishing the fund now with an additional $2.077 billion would cost less than if the schedule were fully carried out ($2.250 billion).
With the savings generated from not having to make monthly contributions to the UCTF for the next three years, Florida could eliminate the BRT entirely this fall, with only a recurring negative impact of $637.5 million annually after fiscal year 2025-26.
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