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ANOTHER TAX BALLOT IN THE WORKS

A lawmaker eyes a higher sales tax or more fees.

A Republican lawmaker is planning a ballot proposal that could include a higher sales tax and other fees in an effort to do away with property taxes.

Rep. Frank Attkisson, who played a key role in the Legislature's tax debate, is eyeing the November 2008 ballot and has secured a prominent public relations firm to sell the idea to Floridians.

"I'm trying to play with ways we can abolish property taxes," Attkisson, of Kissimmee, said Tuesday. "I have real disdain for the way we tax people right now. People should be taxed on their ability to pay."

Voters already are scheduled to consider a tax cut proposal approved by the Legislature that would amend the state Constitution to greatly increase the $25,000 homestead exemption.

That plan will be put to voters on Jan. 29, but its complexity has experts suggesting it may not pass.

Attkisson, 51, was reluctant to discuss his effort or disclose who he was consulting with. But he said he feels a consumption tax, such as a sales tax, is better than property taxes - a position in line with the thinking of House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-Miami.

"I think the speaker is right on the money on that one," Attkisson said.

A former mayor of Kissimmee, Attkisson was a leading proponent of Rubio's failed plan to swap property taxes for a 2.5 percent sales tax increase.

Rubio's plan, which benefited only homesteaded property, drew swift opposition from Democrats, who said it would hurt the poor disproportionately, and Republicans in the Senate squeamish about raising one tax to lower another.

Attkisson thinks taxes could be eliminated on all property by increasing the sales tax as well as imposing "transactional" fees, perhaps on the purchase or sale of property. He stressed the idea is not fully formed and could include other revenue sources.

Despite sharing a common goal with Rubio, Attkisson said he is not working with the speaker.

Significant hurdles lay ahead.

Millions would be needed to get the required 600,000-plus signatures to put the item on the November 2008 ballot and then promote the idea.

Time is also an issue. Valid signatures must be in place by late January.

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