Gov. Scott Doesn't Want More Tax Revenue To Plug Florida's Budget Hole

December 22, 2011 12:07 pm ET — Kate Conway

Gov. Rick Scott

One of the challenges facing Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) is the Sunshine State's gaping budget hole — a challenge Scott hasn't exactly met head-on, given his penchant for cutting taxes (even the ones that fund public education). Instead, Scott, the former head of a questionably scrupled hospital company, is focused on creating a fertile environment for business, primarily through a pledge to cut the corporate tax rate down to zero.

It's on pro-business grounds that Scott has struck perhaps his most nonsensical policy position yet: He says he'll support a law to make internet companies collect state sales tax — but only if it doesn't generate any increased revenue:

While hanging on to his pledge not to raise taxes, Gov. Rick Scott said Wednesday he would sign a bill that would impose a tax on Internet sales, if the bill doesn't increase the overall revenue to the state. [...]

"I don't want any new taxes, but you shouldn't be at a disadvantage because you're a brick-and-mortar company. But I'm not interested in increasing the tax revenue by increasing tax rates," Scott told The Florida Current.

Right now, companies that don't maintain physical locations in Florida, such as Amazon.com, aren't required to collect state sales tax on purchases delivered to Floridians. That, Florida's brick-and-mortar businesses contend, provides the internet companies with an unfair advantage.

Florida's self-styled CEO wants the state's businesses to succeed, so he's agreed to level the taxation playing field. That would have the added benefit of bringing in, by some estimates, anywhere from millions to billions of dollars for the state, which faces projected deficits of up to $2 billion for the coming year.

But Gov. Scott, driven by a blindly ideological opposition to the concept of "raising taxes," doesn't want that revenue, even though he's already agreed to the worthiness of the policy that would raise those taxes. Has there ever been a better example of an anti-government "starve-the-beast" philosophy at work?

The funny thing about Scott's position is that, technically, requiring internet companies to collect the sales tax isn't raising taxes. A provision of Florida's tax law — the Use Tax — already requires residents to pay state sales tax on items purchased outside Florida and brought into the state. But because collection of the Use Tax largely relies on self-reporting, it isn't really enforced. In other words, raising taxes isn't the question here — what's at issue is increasing the effectiveness of the collection mechanism for a tax that Florida shoppers are already legally required to pay.

[h/t: SaintPetersBlog]

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