tampabay.com

Sales tax reforms get court go-ahead

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published March 23, 2007


TALLAHASSEE - Sponsors of three citizens initiatives aimed at overhauling the state's sales tax system were pleased Thursday by a Florida Supreme Court opinion, although justices knocked out two of the ballot proposals.

The justices found only one minor flaw, an outdated deadline for legislative action. The court rejected other arguments from agricultural and business interests against the proposed constitutional amendments.

The changes aim to broaden the sales tax base by repealing exemptions for most services if they don't serve a public purpose. Sponsors argue that taxing more sales types would let the current rate be cut from 6 percent.

The amendments are supported by former Florida Senate president John McKay, a Republican; Department of Children and Families Secretary Bob Butterworth, a Democrat; and others who are part of Floridians Against Inequities in Rates.

McKay said he plans to wait and see what the Legislature does on taxes before redrafting the amendments and launching a new petition campaign.

Floridians Against Inequities in Rates missed the deadline for getting on last year's ballot. They had only 10 percent of about 600,000 signatures needed by the February deadline.

The justices rejected an argument that the amendments improperly covered multiple subjects as they would affect multiple state agencies. They would directly affect only the Legislature, Justice Harry Lee Anstead wrote.