Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Vote on Florida tax loophole was merely political theater

TALLAHASSEE — Money is vanishing from state coffers by the billions, forcing lawmakers to eviscerate the budget.

So Rep. Dan Gelber proudly declared Thursday that he'd discovered a jackpot — a way to generate $365-million annually by closing a corporate tax loophole.

"Corporate tax loophole," he said, as if the words themselves were evil.

But the Miami Beach Democrat knew it was all for show. Republicans quickly assailed the proposal as a tax increase, not a revenue source in a dire time.

"Shall we bring out the grim reaper now?" Rep. Frank Attkisson, R-Kissimmee, joked before the 10-6 party-line vote.

The ideological theater did not completely overshadow a serious debate that has taken place nationwide. The issue involves companies such as Home Depot, Toys R Us and Staples that avoid some taxes by shifting income to subsidiaries in low-tax states as payment for leasing a logo or other intellectual property.

Gelber wants to do something called "combined reporting," which requires corporations to count all their profits — even those going to another state — when calculating Florida taxes. The state's corporate income tax rate is 5.5 percent.

More than 20 states, mostly in the western United States, have taken steps to close the loophole. Most Southern states have not, which, some argue, puts Florida at a disadvantage.

Gelber called for using $265-million to reduce school property taxes and $100-million to offset budget cuts to higher education. He then offered to devote the entire sum to cutting property taxes.

"You can either support huge corporate loopholes, or you can support property tax reduction," he goaded Republicans on the Government Efficiency and Accountability Council.

Business trade groups opposed the bill, saying it would deter corporations from setting up shop in Florida, hurting job growth. In the past decade, Florida actually has lost Fortune 500 companies despite the loophole, Gelber said.

"The losers are the consumers," said Rep. Rob Schenck, R-Spring Hill. "The $365-million will be made up elsewhere."

Critics noted that Florida tried something similar in the 1980s when, under Democratic Gov. Bob Graham, the state enacted a unitary tax on corporations only to reverse the decision.

"We've gone down this rotten road once before," said Randy Miller, executive vice president of the Florida Retail Federation.

Thursday's vote could play out in the November elections, with both sides painting each other in negative terms.

Vote on Florida tax loophole was merely political theater 03/20/08 [Last modified: Monday, March 24, 2008 11:27am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tiger Woods arrested on DUI charge in Florida

    Public Safety

    Tiger Woods has been arrested on a drunken driving charge in Palm Beach County, various media outlets are reporting.

    Tiger Woods, shown in this Feb. 2 file photo, has been arrested in Florida on a DUI charge. Wire photo

  2. Young male hospitalized after shooting in St. Petersburg

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — A juvenile male was injured Monday morning in a shooting in the 2300 block of 17th Ave S, police said.

    A juvenile was injured in a shooting Monday morning in the 2300 block of 17th Ave S in St. Petersburg. (Zachary Sampson, Tampa Bay Times)
  3. Big rents and changing tastes drive dives off St. Pete's 600 block

    Music & Concerts

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kendra Marolf was behind the lobby bar of the State Theatre, pouring vodka sodas for a weeknight crowd packed tight for Bishop Briggs, the latest alternative artist to sell out her club.

    Sam Picciano, 25, left, of Tampa and Molly Cord 24, Palm Harbor shop for record albums for a friend at Daddy Kool Records located on the 600 block of Central Avenue in St. Petersburg, Florida on Saturday, May 20, 2017. OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times
  4. How Hollywood is giving its biggest stars digital facelifts

    Business

    LOS ANGELES — Johnny Depp is 53 years old but he doesn't look a day over 26 in the new "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie — at least for a few moments. There was no plastic surgeon involved, heavy makeup or archival footage used to take the actor back to his boyish "Cry Baby" face, however. It's all …

    This combination of photos released by Disney, shows the character Jack Sparrow at two stages of his life in "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales."  Johnny Depp, who portrays the character, is the latest mega-star to get the drastic de-aging treatment on screen
[Disney via Associated Press]
  5. Putin visits France, hopes to mend strained ties with West

    World

    VERSAILLES, France — On a visit likely to shape Russia-France ties for years, French President Emmanuel Macron hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin at the sumptuous Palace of Versailles on Monday for what the newly-elected French leader said would be "demanding" talks on Syria, the Ukrainian crisis and other …

    Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, is welcomed by French President Emmanuel Macron at the Palace of Versailles, near Paris, France, Monday. Monday's meeting comes in the wake of the Group of Seven's summit over the weekend where relations with Russia were part of the agenda, making Macron the first Western leader to speak to Putin after the talks. [AP photo]