New business rent tax cut, budget victories become law

It’s official, the second cut to the business rent tax in as many years is now law. The new tax rate will be 5.7 percent and will take effect Jan. 1, 2019. The .1 percent cut was included in House Bill 7087 (known as the tax cut package) which was signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott late last week.

Combined with last year’s cut to the tax, businesses throughout Florida will be saving nearly $100 million each year on the sales tax they pay for their commercial leases. These savings give businesses the opportunity to expand, hire more employees, give raises and improve employee benefits.

“Getting rid of the business rent tax was always going to be a hard-fought, long-term effort,” says Christine Hansen, 2018 president of Florida Realtors. “Now that we have built momentum with these cuts, I can’t help but get excited about a future where this tax isn’t around to stifle business and community growth.”

In total, the cuts included in HB 7087 will save Florida families and businesses more than $171 million in taxes, including $38.5 million in savings from a 3-day back to school tax holiday and a one-week disaster preparedness sales tax holiday.

Gov. Scott also recently signed the 2018/2019 state budget which included numerous provisions being advocated for by Realtors. These include:

More than $400 million for Florida’s natural resources — Everglades restoration, beach renourishment and springs protection received significant amounts of funding this year. A large amount of funding was also allocated to expedite repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike around the southern boundary of Lake Okeechobee.

Nearly $124 million for affordable housing projects — Affordable housing programs will receive close to $124 million from the state and local government housing trust funds. These funds go a long way in helping Floridians achieve the dream of homeownership with down payment assistance. They also provide rental assistance and housing rehabilitation to Florida’s homeless population, veterans and persons with disabilities.

Creating an accurate 3D map of Florida — Included in the state budget is $15 million to fund LIDAR (light detection and ranging) mapping that would produce a complete and accurate 3D map of Florida for use in emergency management, infrastructure planning and other purposes. LIDAR is a next-generation mapping technique and has the potential to lower flood insurance rates throughout Florida.

Preventing unlicensed real estate activity — The Legislature allocated up to $500,000 from the Professional Regulation Trust Fund to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to combat unlicensed real estate activity.

“It was a tough budget year filled with lots of competing priorities, but we managed to achieve some solid legislative victories,” says Hansen. “Thank you so much to all our members who gave their time and energy to advocate for our priorities and help us produce another successful session.”

© 2018 Florida Realtors®