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Politics

Leaders High on Rick Scott's Drive to Lessen Small-Business Income Tax Burden

November 7, 2012 - 6:00pm

Attending the National Realtors annual convention in Orlando on Thursday, Gov. Rick Scott emphasized that he intends to pursue further raising the bar to give small businesses a chance to avoid paying taxable income.

Scott said he will work with legislators next session to raise the exemption threshold to $75,000 on taxable income, which would give about 2,000 small businesses an out from the tax.

Like many Florida families, I want my children and great-grandchildren to grow up with even more opportunities than I had, Scott stated in a release after the convention appearance.

Thats why Ive worked to make Florida the No. 1 state in the nation for job creation by cutting burdensome regulations and cutting taxes. Ive made a commitment to the people of Florida to eliminate the business tax over seven years -- and over the past two years we have been able to eliminate the tax for more than 75 percent of businesses that fall under it. Everything we do must be tied to helping families get jobs, and eliminating this tax will ensure more small businesses can hire people.

House Speaker-designate Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, quickly responded that the House will take up the proposal.

"I appreciate the governor's thoughtful proposal and I look forward to discussing it further with members as we consider options in the next legislative session, Weatherford responded in an email.

Florida Democratic Party Executive Director Scott Arceneaux criticized the proposal as a give-away to special interests that will reduce funding for public schools.

"On Election Night, the people of Florida sent a clear message that they have rejected Governor Rick Scott's failed priorities and policies which have slashed funding for our public schools while giving hand-outs to the corporate special interests who epitomize the broken politics of Tallahassee, Arceneaux stated in a release.

But Governor Rick Scott apparently didn't get the message: announcing today that he will hand out even more of our tax dollars in special interests giveaways instead of investing in middle-class families. These are the wrong priorities to grow our economy; they are the wrong priorities to move our state forward, and they are the same failed ideas that are out of touch with Florida's values and have been rejected by Florida's citizens."

Scott and the Legislature have been steadily raising the exemption, pushing the cap from $5,000 to $25,000 in 2011 and then to $50,000 in the 2012 session.

The changes have already eliminated the tax from about three-quarters of the states businesses.

The tax, which generates about $2 billion a year for the state and has provided around 8 percent of general revenue, has been a target of Scotts for full elimination since his campaign days in 2010.

Scotts proposal has been eagerly backed by the states business interest.

Tom Feeney, president and CEO of the Associated Industries of Florida:

Governor Scott continues to be a champion for Floridas business community and is committed to further eliminating the business tax which will help create jobs and economic development opportunities in our state. The Associated Industries of Florida looks forward to working with Governor Scott in the upcoming legislative session to ensure its passage.

David Hart, executive vice president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce:

To secure Floridas future, we must have a competitive business climate that encourages businesses here at home to expand, and attracts new and growing companies to Florida. While Floridas business tax climate is ranked fifth best in the nation by the Tax Foundation, Governor Scotts continued commitment to chip away at this business tax will further build on our states healthy economic environment and encourage more entrepreneurs and job-seekers to pursue their dreams in the Sunshine State.

Bill Herrle, NFIB/Florida executive director:

"With the governor's initiative, we have a real opportunity to grow jobs and businesses in Florida. Florida business leaders want to grow and hire more employees, but they need the resources. Governor Scott's plan to let more small businesses keep more of their bottom line will go a long way in making Florida the best place in the world to grow businesses and find a job."

Rick McAllister, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation:

Floridas retail community makes a tremendous impact on Floridas economy every year. It is important that our lawmakers continue to propose policies that will help retailers -- both large and small -- to prosper in our state. We applaud Governor Scott for his commitment to continue to phase out the business tax.

John Sebree, senior vice president of public policy of the Florida Realtors Association:

We are glad Governor Scott chose our event to unveil his agenda to continue to phase out the business tax. Governor Scott is committed to attracting more businesses to our state and he works every day to make sure new and expanding businesses move here.

Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.

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