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Rethinking tax credit gold rush

Times Staff Writer
Published September 8, 2003

Every July 1, Florida charities line up inside the Capitol to apply for the Community Contribution Tax Credit Program, which offers business owners a state tax credit worth $50 for every $100 they donate to charity.

This year's giveaway was more like a gold rush. Within two hours, all $10-million in credits were gone. It took 80 days for the money to run out last year.

Program administrator Burt Von Hoff is taking seriously criticism of the program's first-come, first-serve format. A survey given to participants asks whether the state should instead collect applications over a period of months, then treat them equally.

Other questions included whether the $10-million annual budget should be changed; whether a percentage of funds should be set aside for housing or other projects; and whether there should be a cap on how much credit a single charity can claim a year.

A cap may be controversial. Some charities have long complained that Habitat for Humanity dominates the program. Last year, a lone Habitat affiliate in Jacksonville claimed 23 percent of the $10-million. This year, 18 Habitat affiliates took home a combined 82 percent.

Von Hoff asked that the surveys be returned before Sept. 25. He'll tally the results and forward them to the legislative committees that oversee the program.

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