November 19, 2022

Florida’s tax code spending warrants greater scrutiny | Opinion

In the aftermath of hurricanes Ian and Nicole, with waning American Rescue Plan Act dollars, legislators will have to decide how to finance increased spending on Florida’s natural resources, community-based climate resilience and disaster recovery planning.

To do so, consider that Florida spent $23.6 billion last year, the equivalent of almost a quarter of our state budget, without lawmakers having to convene a single legislative committee, hold a public forum or ask for approval. In fact, the state has spent at least $18 billion each year since 2010, and will likely continue to spend as much well into future years, with hardly any scrutiny.

How is this possible? Through over 400 tax expenditures — deductions, credits and other special tax benefits to either incentivize a specific behavior or offer hardship relief on behalf of a public interest. In exchange, Florida forfeits revenue. For every $1 of tax revenue, the state pays a subsidy worth roughly 29 cents. While there’s nothing inherently positive or negative about using the tax code to craft public policy, this significant forfeiture of revenue warrants — at the very least — a closer look.


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