Florida Business Tax Hike

By: Troy Kinsey Email
By: Troy Kinsey Email

At Joey Costanzo's seafood restaurant - aptly named 'The Wharf' - the food must be good, otherwise, there wouldn't be a line out the door.

Since moving to a new location a month ago, business here has skyrocketed by 70 percent.

That's good for the bottom line, but the taxes Joey pays for unemployment insurance aren't.

Come January, they're set to climb by half, to 120-dollars per employee. "It's unfortunate. I mean, that may be something to where we might not be able to hire another person or we may have to lay off someone in the next 90 days that we've already hired, 'cause everything, with food going up and this going up, it's tough," said Costanzo.

For all the proclamations by Florida's politicians about the cost of business going down, you'll find reality right here, where taxes are going up and the next item on the menu may well be pink slips, that's exactly what Rick Scott, Florida's self-proclaimed 'jobs governor', doesn't want. He's made it a top priority to *cut* taxes, not *raise* them.

"The way I think about this is, if we want more jobs in Florida, Florida companies have got to do well," said Scott.

The state says unemployment taxes have to go up to help pay off a nearly three billion dollar loan Florida took out from the federal government.

The money was used to help keep unemployment benefits flowing at the height of the great recession.

The governor's department of economic opportunity promises the tax will go back down when the loan is paid off after the first five months of the year. But for Joey, that's about five months too late a tough fact he'd like to tell lawmakers, if only he could break away.

He says he doesn't doubt they'll get the message eventually.
But he worries by then it may be too late for his business not to mention Florida's job market. The planned increase in the unemployment compensation tax would only be the latest hike.
In just two years, the tax has climbed 28 dollars per employee, mostly because more floridians who have lost a job are collecting unemployment benefits.

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