Overhaul Sales Tax?

The Florida Supreme Court is considering a proposal that would let you vote on whether it’s time to overhaul the state’s sales tax system, but convincing voters to get behind the idea might not be that easy.

You pay sales tax on dog food for your pet, but for greyhounds you do not have to pay sales tax on dog food. It’s just one of the hundreds of sales tax exemptions former state Senate President John Mackay says doesn’t make sense.

“There are tax breaks for the rich that can afford the skyboxes, but the average person going to a movie theatre or going to a ball game has to pay sales taxes, and that’s just patently unfair and it ought to stop,” says Mackay.

The state Supreme Court is considering whether Mackay’s proposed constitutional amendment requiring lawmakers to review sales tax exemptions every 10 years should go on the November ballot.

Barber John Sikes hopes it doesn’t make the cut. Barber services are also exempt from sales taxes under the current law and Sikes doesn’t want to see that changed.

John says, “The economy’s down, people don’t have the money to give us as it is right now and all, we can’t afford extra paperwork, secretaries to keep up with all this stuff and all, it’s just way too much hassle.”

Supporters of the proposed amendment were at the state Supreme Court saying just because the amendment would force a review of tax exemptions doesn’t mean it would get rid of them.

Former state comptroller Bob Milligan says lawmakers would probably leave many of the tax exemptions in place.

Bob says, “It’s purely saying you will review the exemptions, period, and to me that’s just good judgment and common sense if you want to know the truth.”

The key will be convincing voters like John Sikes if the proposal makes it to the ballot in November. Even if the Supreme Court approves the wording of the proposed amendment on a review of sales tax exemptions, the effort still faces an uphill battle.

Citizens’ Initiatives need to have verified signatures of nearly 489,000 registered voters to appear on the ballot, and so far supporters only have about 74,000 verified signatures.