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Taxing Services in Florida

How about your next dry cleaning order? There's a new push in Florida to do just that.

Former Senate President John MacKay is teaming up with former Cabinet members Bob Butterworth and Bob Milligan to once again push for a services tax. Only food, wages, rent, prescription medicines and electricity or heating oil would be exempt from the state sales tax under a set of constitutional amendments being circulated.

The constitutional push is the brainchild of former Senate President John MacKay. MacKay pushed for the change in 2002 and again in 2004. Both times courts cut him off.

"I guess because I’m not elected anymore and I’m not running for anything else again, it doesn’t mean one should abandon their goals."

His ally former comptroller Bob Milligan says inconsistencies make the state's tax code unfair.

"I go down and get a haircut and I don’t pay a tax on the haircut, but the barber pays a tax on the rent of the chair that I’m sitting in."

Frankly it’s just a drop in the bucket of things that are not taxed. Right now Florida exempts about $43 billion in service taxes. The Florida Chamber worries the effort could hurt out of state investment.

Mark Wilson of the Florida Chamber says, "When they sense that our tax system is in disarray, it’s one way today and it might change tomorrow, then you don’t have stability and when you don’t have stability you don’t have investments."

And broadcasters who led the charge against an advertising tax twice before say they are ready to square off again.

Pat Roberts of the Florida Association of Broadcasters says, "It’s special interest wanting more money from the state revenue, so if he and his special interests can get the money and go get the paid petition takers and buy his way on the ballot, then we will fight him."

In the end, it’s the voters who will decide if the state’s tax policy is fair. Backers of the tax reform amendment will need to collect 130,000 more signatures than were required last year.


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