Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Change Could Mean More Tax Dollars for City

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Change Could Mean More Tax Dollars for City

Article excerpt

Byline: Jim Saunders, Times-Union staff writer

********** CORRECTION January 31, 2002

Fifty-one Florida counties charge local sales taxes, with rates ranging from a half-cent to 1.5 cents on each $1 purchase. Because of a reporter's error, the rates were incorrectly calculated in a story on Page B-3 Tuesday.

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TALLAHASSEE -- With Florida lawmakers battling over a plan to revamp the state's tax system, Jacksonville officials are looking at whether the plan could lead to more tax dollars flowing into the city.

The plan, which has become one of the most controversial issues of this year's legislative session, would close dozens of loopholes that block the collection of sales taxes on purchases ranging from haircuts to accounting fees.

The change might lead to increased tax dollars for local governments, such as Jacksonville, that have convinced county voters to pay extra sales taxes. The Jacksonville sales-tax rate is 7 percent, 1 percent above the statewide rate.

Duval County voters approved half of that increase in 2000 to pay for Mayor John Delaney's $2.2 billion Better Jacksonville program. The program uses the money to finance a laundry list of projects, including improving roads, building a new arena and building a courthouse.

Mary Kay Cariseo, executive director of the Florida Association of Counties, said Jacksonville and the other local governments could expect increased sales-tax dollars because more purchases would be taxed. In all 51 counties have increased local sales taxes, ranging from a half-cent on a $100 purchase to 1.5 cents.

"Certainly, as you can imagine, the half-cent applied on a greater base would bring in additional dollars for infrastructure at the local level," Cariseo said.

But Sharon Ashton, a Delaney spokeswoman, said the city is studying the tax-reform proposal and is unsure of its effects. Among other things, the plan could at least initially force the city to reduce other taxes to offset the increased sales tax revenue.

"We are in the data gathering stage right now," Ashton said.

The tax-reform plan, which is backed by Senate President John McKay, R-Bradenton, has touched off one of the biggest political fights of this year's legislative session. …

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