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PolitiFact Florida | St. Petersburg Times
Sorting out the truth in state politics

Democratic CFO candidate didn't vote to tax savings

The statement

Loranne Ausley "voted six times to tax your savings."

Republican Party of Florida, in statements on the party's website, costlyausley.com.

The ruling

The Republican Party of Florida launched a website that it says highlights the liberal tax record of Democratic chief financial officer candidate Loranne Ausley.

"How Costly is Ausley?" the party asked on costlyausley.com. "Ausley VOTED SIX TIMES to tax your savings. As a liberal state legislator Loranne Ausley has a costly record of supporting higher taxes, bigger government and more wasteful spending."

The website references three bills — HB 21 in 2001, HB 791 in 2004 and HB 209 in 2006 — to make its six-vote claim. The bills match with the years Ausley, a lawyer from Tallahassee, served in the Florida House (2001-2008).

Each bill deals with Florida's annual intangible personal property tax.

The intangible tax, which was repealed by the Legislature in 2006, was a state tax paid on the value of investments such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, money market funds and unsecured notes. Savings accounts, pension funds, certificates of deposit and 401(k)s were not subject to the tax.

The tax rate was capped at 2 mills ($2 per $1,000 of value) by the state Constitution, but it fluctuated over time. The tax rate increased from 1 mill to 1.5 mills in 1990 and to 2 mills in 1992.

Gov. Jeb Bush began a program to phase out the tax upon taking office in January 1999. Before Ausley took office, the tax rate was lowered from 2 mills to 1.5 mills in 1999, and from 1.5 mills to 1 mill in 2000.

In 2001, Ausley voted twice against measures to lower the intangible tax rate to 0.75 mills and once against a plan to dramatically increase the amount of holdings exempted from the tax. She did, however, vote for a more modest increase to the amount of holdings that could be exempt from the tax. The three no votes all came out of HB 21.

In 2004, Ausley voted in committee against HB 791, which would have phased out the intangible tax over three years. The bill never made it to the full floor of the House.

And in 2006, Ausley voted twice against HB 209, the bill to repeal the intangible tax altogether, once in committee and once on the House floor.

The statement we're checking in this item is that Ausley "voted six times to tax your savings." Now, saying "savings" is a bit broad. The tax didn't touch pensions, CDs, savings accounts and 401(k) plans; it applied to investments such as stocks, bonds and mutual funds.

Second, the votes in question weren't for tax hikes. They were against cutting the state's intangible tax.

And there weren't really six of them. The Republican Party is talking about three bills and, really, four votes — a vote to lower the intangible tax rate from 1 mill to 0.75 mill, a vote to raise the exemption amounts, and then two votes to repeal the tax entirely. In each of those cases, Ausley voted "No."

We rate this claim False.

Edited for print. For more, go to politifact.com/florida.

Democratic CFO candidate didn't vote to tax savings 09/21/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 21, 2010 9:42pm]
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