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Income tax expected, poll says

Three out of every four Florida voters surveyed think the state will have a personal income tax within 10 years, but only one in four would vote for such a measure, according to a poll. Younger residents, and those who have lived in the state a shorter time, were more likely to support an income tax, according to the Florida Opinion Poll, conducted by The New York Times newspapers in Florida and published Sunday.

Florida is one of 10 states without a personal income tax, but such a proposal is being considered by the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission formed to deal with recent revenue shortages.

Many politicians fear the unpopularity of the idea, and the survey showed they have reason to.

Only 24 percent of the respondents said they would vote for a state income tax, while 71 percent said they'd vote against it. Five percent said they didn't know.

Among registered voters, 25 percent said they'd vote for the income tax and 72 percent said they'd vote against it. Three percent said they didn't know.

The longer respondents had lived in Florida, the less likely they were to favor an income tax.

Only 24 percent of those born in Florida said they'd vote for it. The number favoring it was highest, though still only 36 percent, among those who had lived in the state only three to 10 years.

Before an income tax can be imposed, voters would have to authorize it by amending the state's constitution, which now forbids it.

But 74 percent of those surveyed said they thought the state would have an income tax in 10 years. Only 15 percent said it wouldn't. Eleven percent said they didn't know.

Results were virtually identical among registered voters: 74 percent thought the state would have an income tax by 2001, 16 percent thought it wouldn't, and 10 percent didn't know.

Interviewers questioned 519 adult Floridians on tax and state spending issues in a telephone poll conducted from May 30 to June 1. Responses have a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

Among those polled were 392 people who said they were registered voters in Florida. Their responses have a margin of error of 5 percentage points.