TALLAHASSEE – In the quest to provide “broad tax relief” to Floridians, one particular taxpayer has cut to the head of the line: the birthplace of NASCAR.
A Senate plan to help Gov. Rick Scott to his election-year goal of $500 million in tax cuts this year emerged Thursday with a $2 million annual sales tax subsidy for the Daytona International Speedway project included.
The racetrack is already in the middle of its $400 million “Daytona Rising” redevelopment, and the track is also one of three stadium projects – including proposed MLS soccer stadiums in Orlando and Miami – that will likely be allowed to tap into $6 million for their projects in the budget lawmakers are set to pass in three weeks.
The tax-break for the speedway was the subject of a separate bill that Senate Finance and Tax Chair Dorothy Hukill, R-DeLand, has been pushing this session. But it is nowhere to be found in the House's tax-cutting package. Until now, the Senate had refused to provide alternatives to hit the governor's $500 million goal.
Conversely, the House has passed a $152 million tax-cutting package that would give Florida shoppers sales-tax breaks on computers, hurricane supplies, dryers, gym memberships and a raft of other goods from pool pumps to toilet seats.
The House plan creates four separate sales tax "holidays" for school supplies, hurricane supplies, gym memberships, and energy-efficient appliances.
By contrast, the Senate prefers a $105.1 million alternative. It would give the $400 million Daytona Rising development project a $2 million annual sales tax subsidy, and includes the back-to-school tax holiday, and a $64.6 million cut to Florida's communications services tax on cell phones, cable bills and other telecom services sought by AT&T, T-Mobile and other companies.
Senate Appropriations Chairman Joe Negron, R-Stuart, said the chamber was only adopting items which had gone through its committees. He said the two chambers would spend the next two weeks hammering out a plan behind the scenes.
"These ideas didn't just come up today," Negron said.
The House plan spreads its dollars much wider. It creates tax exemptions for items like car seats, youth bicycle helmets and cement mixers, and offer some 2,000 companies income tax breaks as part of the dozen different tax cuts. That would come from a $21.7 million corporate income tax cut -- which would be the third reduction in the corporate income tax accomplished by removing smaller businesses from paying the tax.
Florida imposes a 5.5 percent tax on the net income of some corporations in Florida. Currently, the first $50,000 of income subject to Florida tax is exempt from the corporate income tax, and the bill would increase that exemption to $75,000.
The Legislature has already sent Scott the biggest piece of his tax-cut agenda: a $395 million cut to motorist registration fees he signed into law.