Florida House Introduces $400 Million Motor Vehicle Fee Reduction

Updated By: Andy Alcock
March 13, 2014, 5pm

If you own a vehicle registered in Florida, you could see your license fee reduced.

State lawmakers and Governor Rick Scott support reducing that tax.

Susan Phillips had her check book out at the Leon County Tax Collector's office.

She was paying taxes to renew her license for two vehicles, a jet ski and a trailer.

"It was approximately $233 and some change, so yes, that cuts into a lot of people's budgets," said Phillips. "But I choose to have those vehicles so therefore I feel like I have to pay the taxes for them," she said.

Susan is far from alone.

In 2009 with Florida's economy struggling, lawmakers raised the vehicle taxes to help cover the decline in money the state was getting.

Now with the economy and the state's tax money collections improving, Governor Rick Scott and lawmakers want to roll back vehicle taxes to the 2009 level.

"We don't manufacture money in Tallahassee," said State Senator Greg Evers. "We got to take it out of somebody's pocket before we can spend it. And I'm just happy we're able to put some back in somebody's pocket," he said.

Leon County Tax Collector Doris Maloy says when the tax was increased, her office worked to inform customers so they could come in before the increase went into effect.

Now she's waiting to see what the ultimate outcome will be at the Capitol.

"Any time there is a benefit to the customer, and we're all for that, we really don't know what the impact will be long term, but certainly in the short term it seems very, very positive," Maloy said.

"Any time you can lower our taxes, I'm all for that like everyone else," said Phillips.

It appears the debate at the Capitol isn't about whether or not this reduction will happen, it's mostly about ironing out the details.

If approved as expected, the reduction would go into effect September 1.

News Release: Florida House
Updated: March 13, 2014, 5:30pm

Tallahassee, Fla.—The Florida House Finance & Tax Subcommittee today introduced a proposal to reduce the fees Floridians pay when registering motor vehicles. The reduction would take effect on September 1, 2014.

“This year, the Florida House is planning to offer significant tax cuts that will allow families to keep more of their hard-earned dollars,” said House Finance & Tax Chair Ritch Workman (R-Melbourne). “Reducing the fees associated with registering a car will help make owning a car more affordable for everyone.”

PCB FTSC 14-04 significantly cuts the taxes, fees, and surcharges for motor vehicle licenses. Floridians will see their registration costs reduced by $25.05 for heavy weight vehicles, $21.55 for middle weight vehicles, and $18.55 for light weight vehicles. The House proposal will constitute $309 million in tax relief in Fiscal Year 2014-15, and $395 million on an annual basis.

These reductions are part of the proposed $500 million tax cut, which is the largest tax and fee cut of its kind in over a decade. With substantive tax relief a major priority this session, the House is focused on developing proposals that put money directly back into the pockets of hard-working Floridians.

In January, House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz announced Work Plan 2014, which included a $500 million tax cut as a priority. To read more about Work Plan 2014, please visit the Florida House of Representatives online.

News Release: Governor Rick Scott's Office

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott issued a statement on unanimous passage of the vehicle registration fee rollback in the Senate Appropriations Committee as well as the House Finance and Tax Subcommittee. The legislation will cut taxes by $400 million.

Governor Scott said, “I want to thank members of the Senate Appropriations Committee as well as the House Finance and Tax Subcommittee for their support in undoing the 2009 tax increases by reducing motor vehicle fees. This tax cut will give families back $400 million of their own money. I look forward to our continuing work with the Legislature on our ‘It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget’ to cut taxes and fees, pay down debt and cut government waste, so we can create an opportunity economy where all families can pursue their dreams in the Sunshine State.”

News Release: Florida Senate

Tallahassee–Today, the Senate Committee on Appropriations, chaired by Senator Joe Negron (R-Stuart), unanimously approved Senate Bill 156, Motor Vehicle License Taxes. The bill, sponsored by Chair Negron, would reduce certain annual vehicle registration fees by nearly $400 million.

“Our starting point for this year’s tax cut package was legislation passed by the Senate last session which reduced vehicle registration fees by more than $230 million,” said Chair Negron. “From day one we committed to making a reduction in vehicle fees the centerpiece of meaningful tax relief for Florida’s families. I’m pleased that as the bill moved through the committee process, we gained support within the Senate to increase the amount and scope of this needed reduction in fees and I’m grateful to Governor Scott and our colleagues in the House for their leadership on this important issue.”

Senate Bill 156 reduces certain annual fees paid to register a motor vehicle to the amount paid prior to 2009. Based on the latest estimates, the bill reduces fees by $395 million. Annual vehicle registration fees were raised during the height of Florida’s economic decline in 2009, a year when state general revenue collections had declined more than 22 percent since their high in 2005-2006.

As Florida’s economy continues to rebound, tax relief is a joint priority of Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) and House Speaker Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel) who announced a $500 million tax and fee reduction as a key component of their 5-point Work Plan 2014 joint legislative agenda.

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed four additional Work Plan Florida 2014 priorities today: CS/CS/SB 846 by Senator Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater), SB 928 by Senator Jeremy Ring (D-Margate), SB 1648 by the Committee on Governmental Oversight and Accountability, and Senate Bill 732 by Senator Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton).

Aiming to increase the standard of ethics across the state, SB 846 extends specific provisions within the Code of Ethics, such as anti-nepotism provisions, voting conflict standards, and post-employment lobbying restrictions, to statutorily created quasi-governmental entities, like the Florida Clerk of Courts, Enterprise Florida and Citizens Property Insurance.

Senate Bill 928 develops an Information Technology governance strategy for the state through the creation of an Agency for State Technology, headed by a Chief Information Officer and charged with producing better Information Technology management, security, cost efficiency and customer service.

Senate Bill 1648 substantially strengthens Florida’s existing public records and open government laws by clarifying how the public may access records and how government should respond. The legislation brings additional transparency to organizations that accept membership fees from the government and to businesses with government contracts.

SB 732, Stanley G. Tate Florida Prepaid College Program, aims to provide the Florida Prepaid College Board better predictability of future tuition and fee payments to universities, thus reducing the cost of prepaid contracts. The maximum assessment and payment for state university registration fees, tuition differential fees, local fees, and dormitory fees is capped at no more than the actual cost charged by the state universities for such fees.

All five bills will now head to the Senate Floor. For more information, please visit www.flsenate.gov.

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