Choose One: Property Tax or Sales Tax
by Pam Gould
It wasn't so very long ago that Florida was known as the State of fresh fruit, old age and wealth, (both fresh and old). With low housing costs and property taxes, no income tax, and an extraordinarily favorable tax structure for business and individuals of means, it had the distinction of being a tropical safe-haven for those with limited and unlimited resources.
However, as more companies took advantage of the favorable business climate and jobs started to disappear in other parts of the country , a new demographic joined the ranks of the retired and the wealthy. Families, young and mid-life, moved here seeking to participate in this perceived idyllic lifestyle. In fact the median age of a Florida citizen today is 39 years old, and that taxpayer's priorities and community requirements are measurably different from those of the retired taxpayer.
Logic tells us that more workers, homeowners and shoppers should generate more tax revenues, but according to our present state and local elected officials it is not enough to keep up with the growth. They cite the necessity for new infrastructures, increased public and community services and of course - escalating educational costs-as justification for new and/or escalating tax programs that promise to put more financial burdens on an already beleagured middle-class Floridian population.
I strongly support looking into state and local expenditures and "trimming the fat" as long as it is "fat" and not merely a short -term solution that will ultimately come back to haunt us in the form of inadequate services and educational programs that would endanger our economic progress and long-term quality of life.
I am not an economist but it occurs to me that once that has been accomplished we should be looking in other places to make meaningful long-term and positive economic change for our state.
For example, if even a part the $22.9 billion from the 323 sales tax exemptions granted to Special Interests in Florida had actually made it into the budget last time, we might not be in such a tenuous financial position today. I'm also curious about how it's possible that we have so much "wealth" here but so little proportionate tax revenues from that quarter to show for it. And whatever happened to the intangibles tax or the service tax anyway? And, yes, I'll ask the dreaded question, is this the time for a fair, proportionate, income or flat tax ?
The decisions regarding what happens to the pending tax issues at the State and local levels will affect the quality of life for every citizen in Florida for a long time to come. I beseech our public servants to make bi-partisan decisions, taking the needs of all of the citizens, as well as the positive economic growth of our state, into consideration while determining our future.
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(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Martin County Democratic Executive Committee has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is Martin County Democratic Executive Committee endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)