Friday, April 27, 2018
Politics

PolitiFact Florida: Rick Scott was right about Florida's unique tax on business leases

Gov. Rick Scott kicked off the legislative session by touting an economic agenda chock-full of tax cuts to benefit businesses.

Scott took aim at the state's "unfair" tax on corporate leases in his State of the State address Tuesday, citing David Alfandary, whose factory in Miami produces Colombian baked goods, as an example of a businessman who could prosper without it.

"David has said that he is very proud to grow his business in Florida, and if we cut this unfair tax, he could grow his business even more," Scott said. "Florida is now the only state in the nation to tax commercial leases."

Florida does levy a 6 percent sales tax on the total rent paid for any commercial property, including storefronts, offices and warehouses. Other municipalities have similar laws, but not one is as comprehensive as Florida's.

We rated Scott's statement True.

A 2014 research memorandum from the Florida Legislature's Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability concluded that Florida is the only state that imposes a sales tax on commercial real estate leases.

Researchers found similar laws in New York City, Arizona, Hawaii and New Mexico, but they didn't go as far.

For example, New York City imposes a 6 percent tax on commercial real estate leases, but it only applies to companies that pay at least $250,000 in rent every year. Hawaii imposes a 4 percent general excise tax on income, which can include income from leases.

National experts, including from the Tax Policy Center, said to the best of their knowledge Scott was correct.

So did Carla Markowitz, an attorney who specializes in Florida commercial landlord representation speaking on behalf of the Building Owners and Managers Association.

House Democrat criticizes teacher pay

Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, offered the response to Scott's speech on behalf of House Democrats.

If Republican leaders want to attract the good-paying jobs that Scott talked about, Cruz said they should start with well-funded public schools.

"It is embarrassing, and I am ashamed, that Florida pays our teachers $10,000 a year less than the national average," said the House Democratic leader.

Cruz's figure is slightly off, so we rated it Mostly True.

A spokesman for Cruz said she got the figure from the U.S. News and World Report Best Jobs of 2017 rankings. The report showed the median salary for a U.S. high school teacher was $57,200 in 2015. Florida Department of Education data show the average salary for a teacher in Florida was $48,179, as of April.

That difference: about $9,021.

We checked another source, with similar results.

The National Education Association, a labor union, collects data from state education departments showing average classroom teacher pay in each state. The most recent numbers from fall 2016 show Florida's teacher salary at $49,199 and the national average at $58,353 — a difference of about $9,154.

Within a state, the pay and cost of living can vary among school districts depending on if they're small rural towns, urban centers or wealthy beachfront communities. Discrepancies in benefits, such as health insurance, can also make a difference in take-home pay as well.

Florida Department of Education spokeswoman Cheryl Etters said each school district negotiates salaries of their instructional and classroom staff locally. Additionally, she pointed out that Florida has no state income tax — though income tax is only one piece of someone's tax bill.

Read more rulings at PolitiFact.com/Florida

 
Comments
Carlton: Lessons from the NRA

Carlton: Lessons from the NRA

You would think these would be tough times for the National Rifle Association. You would think so even here in Florida, where the NRA practically dictates gun legislation, where it easily fends off gun limits and swiftly bullies lawmakers who dare s...
Updated: 2 minutes ago
Mike Pompeo narrowly confirmed to be secretary of state

Mike Pompeo narrowly confirmed to be secretary of state

WASHINGTON — The Senate narrowly confirmed Mike Pompeo to be secretary of state on Thursday, clearing the path for him to take over as the top U.S. diplomat just as President Donald Trump faces high-risk moments on Iran and North Korea.Pompeo, the ou...
Published: 04/26/18
Trump says Cohen represented him in

Trump says Cohen represented him in "Stormy Daniels deal"

President Donald Trump acknowledged Thursday for the first time that his longtime lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen represented him in efforts to silence Stormy Daniels, the adult film actress who has alleged a sexual encounter with Trump more than a de...
Published: 04/26/18
HUD Secretary proposes raising rent for low-income Americans receiving federal housing subsidies

HUD Secretary proposes raising rent for low-income Americans receiving federal housing subsidies

WASHINGTON - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson proposed far-reaching changes to federal housing subsidies Wednesday, tripling rent for the poorest households and making it easier for housing authorities to impose work requirements.Ca...
Published: 04/26/18
VA nominee considers withdrawing as new allegations emerge of drinking, wrecking government vehicle

VA nominee considers withdrawing as new allegations emerge of drinking, wrecking government vehicle

WASHINGTON — White House physician Ronny Jackson has grown frustrated with the nomination process to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs and has told colleagues he may remove his name from consideration, two White House officials with knowledge o...
Published: 04/25/18
Sessions defends Trump pardons of Joe Arpaio, Scooter Libby

Sessions defends Trump pardons of Joe Arpaio, Scooter Libby

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday defended President Donald Trump’s right to pardon former Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former Bush administration official I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Both pardons were issued by Trump and bypassed the ...
Published: 04/25/18
Seniors support ‘grandchildren’ with gun-control rally in Sun City Center

Seniors support ‘grandchildren’ with gun-control rally in Sun City Center

SUN CITY CENTER — Millions of women marched on Washington. Thousands of teenagers rallied in Tallahassee and Tampa Bay.And in Sun City Center, nearly 150 seniors held a demonstration for gun control on April 21, offering a simple but poignant message...
Published: 04/25/18

Sean Hannity, a Trump defender, under scrutiny for real estate deals

Atlanta Journal-Constitution (TNS)ATLANTA — On his Fox News program last summer, Sean Hannity effused praise for his guest, U.S. Housing Secretary Ben Carson. "I know you have done a good job," Hannity said. "You are a good man."Carson’s presence gav...
Published: 04/23/18
Having Cuba in the name of your company can be a financial risk and there is no solution

Having Cuba in the name of your company can be a financial risk and there is no solution

With the third largest Cuban American population, Cuba’s culture is celebrated throughout the Tampa Bay area and in a diversity of ways.Flags hang in homes, fashion is worn, music performed, food served.But be wary of honoring that heritage by puttin...
Published: 04/23/18
Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

WEST PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump said Saturday that he doesn’t expect Michael Cohen, his longtime personal lawyer and fixer, to "flip" as the government investigates Cohen’s business dealings. Trump, in a series of tweets fired from Florida o...
Published: 04/21/18