Florida business leaders push to cut rent tax on businesses

Group pushing to cut business rent tax

Imagine paying a sales tax on your rent! That's what businesses in Florida have to do. A group of business leaders are pushing to get rid of the tax and open the door to new jobs.

Florida paints itself as a business friendly state, but employers could be getting a mixed message. It's the only state in the country that charges companies a sales tax on their rent.

The owner of One Feather Native American Art, David Baxter, said it's money that could be better spent. Baxter said, "You can kind of figure out what you could do with that, for us we could buy inventory, we could hire some help back again, so we could have a little time off."

Right now, businesses in Florida are spending 1.7 billion dollars a year on business rent taxes.

The Destin Chamber of Commerce is part of a statewide coalition pushing for change. CEO Shane Moody said, "I think business owners knew that they were paying the tax, I don't think they knew we were the only state in the country that still had the tax."

The chambers are asking the legislature to gradually reduce the tax. Moody said it's all about creating jobs.

He said, "Good quality of life begins with good jobs, good jobs begins with good economies, and good economies are created when businesses have more money to reinvest in themselves."

Real estate broker Ed Smith has been dealing with the issue for a long time. He said big companies that can do big hiring face a roadblock when they look at Florida.

Smith said, "If we eliminate that sales tax on commercial leases, then the offset will be all those jobs and the employment that will come to Florida as a result, that will create addittional income to the state."

With the state's population continuing to go up, the Florida Chamber of Commerce estimates Okaloosa County will need 7,000 new jobs by the year 2030 to maintain its current employment rate.

The Business Rent Tax Coalition has set up a website with a petition for legislators. CLICK HERE for the petition.

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