Study: Florida's tax burden low, but local taxes highest in nation


Florida's per capita state government tax and revenue collections are at their lowest points in decades, according to the state's fiscal watchdog, Florida TaxWatch.

The group's latest report,"How Florida Compares," shows the state's per capita state tax collections have fallen to 48th in the nation. While Floridians' state tax burden is low, the report shows that more than half of all government revenues are paid by local taxpayers. Local government revenues comprise 54.8 percent of Florida government revenues, which is the highest percentage in the nation.

When state and local taxes are combined, Florida's tax burden rises higher.

"Florida's different tax rankings paint a picture for taxpayers that help them understand how state and local governments work together to provide necessary services," said Dominic Calabro, president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch, the independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit taxpayer research institute and government watchdog. "We hope taxpayers and policymakers will use this guide to better understand the cost of state and local governments, and how those costs compare to the rest of the nation."

In 2013, per capita state tax burden was 48th, falling from 47th in 2012. Floridians' per capita state revenue ranking also fell from 2012 to 2013, dropping from 48th to 49th. These are the lowest rankings since Florida TaxWatch has been tracking them. When combined with local revenues, Florida's per capita state and local tax and revenue rankings are 44th and 36th respectively.

The report finds that Florida's recent lower tax rankings are largely due to the profound negative impact the great recession had on property and sales tax revenue. From 2006 to 2013, Florida's state tax collections saw the largest decrease in the nation, falling 11.8 percent, and was one of only two states to have revenues fall. However, as the state recovers from the recession, Florida's general sales tax and documentary and real estate transfer taxes are beginning to provide more revenue.

The report also presents data showing that 53.0 percent of state and local taxes in Florida come from businesses, the 10th highest ration in the nation. Factors contributing to this include the lack of a personal income tax and the Save Our Homes provision, which tends to shift property tax burden away from homeowners.

DOCUMENT: How Florida Compares


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