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Politics

Are our taxes too high? Floridians say yes, no, maybe

A new poll shows residents are divided on the way we should tax ourselves, and how much.

By STEVE BOUSQUET
Published March 30, 2007


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TALLAHASSEE - A new statewide poll of Floridians on property tax issues offers a mixed bag of guidance for legislators looking to make tax reform both meaningful and popular.

The poll affirms strong support for a rollback of local government tax rates, but also shows no clear consensus that taxes are too high in Florida - the central premise of legislators and a governor seeking to lower property taxes.

Asked about the level of "all state and local taxes taken together," 52 percent said taxes are too high, 43 percent said they are what they should be, and 3 percent said taxes are too low.

The poll by Quinnipiac University of Connecticut surveyed 1,061 voters by phone from March 21-27. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Among the other findings in the poll:

- By a 3-1 majority (69-23 percent), voters favor rolling back local government spending to 2001 levels.

-By a much narrower majority (49-40 percent), they are willing to accept fewer government services if it means lower property taxes.

- They narrowly oppose (by 48-44 percent) House Speaker Marco Rubio's plan to eliminate property taxes on owner-occupied homes and replace the revenue with a 2.5-percent sales tax hike.

- A different wording of the same question produced a different result. By a 51-34 percent majority, voters said they oppose eliminating local property taxes in exchange for higher sales tax.

- A clear majority (63-28 percent) says the sales tax is fairer than the property tax, as Rubio has argued in pushing for his tax plan.

- They are evenly divided on whether to eliminate the Save Our Homes tax cap that is widely blamed for the current inequities in the property tax system (46 said yes, 44 said no).

- An overwhelming majority (74 percent) said it is better to wait until 2008 to put tax changes before voters than to hold a special election this year at a cost of about $19-million.

In a memo to 78 Republican House members after the poll results were released, Todd Reid, director of the House Republican Office, said: "House Republicans must do a better job of explaining the plan as a comprehensive tax cut proposal that has the potential to provide more tax relief and greater prosperity than any other single measure in our state's history."

"If you can't get people to overwhelmingly support a proposal that wipes out their taxes, then you ought to start looking at new incarnations of the plan, and obviously I think they are," said House Democratic Leader Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach.

[Last modified March 30, 2007, 00:02:16]


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