October 14, 2022

Floridians seeing fewer gas tax holiday benefits than promised, data shows

Nick Papantonis writes:

"Since the [gas tax] holiday took effect on October 1, data show Floridians have never saved 25 cents at the pump, and the benefits have been shrinking over time.


Other analysts took aim with the way Florida plans to pay for the deficit. The Florida Policy Institute’s Esteban Santis [emphasis added] noted that the government still doesn’t know if it’s allowed to use American Rescue Plan funding passed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The case is winding its way through the court system.

“If it turns out that we can’t do this, that means we’ll have to surrender $200 million,” he said. “Instead of using federal dollars for something else, we effectively lose that money.”

Santis said Florida’s use of tax holidays to bring relief was the result of politicians looking for quick fixes instead of meaningful change.


But the Florida Policy Institute’s Esteban Santis says Florida’s holidays are more problematic because they’re partially caused by an unfair tax code that politicians appear to be reluctant to tackle.

'This is still a temporary kind of band-aid solution,' he said. 'It’s not targeted to the individuals who need the most tax relief. At the same time, there’s no real logic as to why we should discriminate between certain time periods and not the rest of the year.'

Santis often refers to Florida’s tax code as “upside down.” In a normal tax code, people who earn more pay more in taxes. Since Florida does not have an income tax and is heavily reliant on sales taxes for revenue, he said working-class earners spend a greater percentage of their money on taxes than the wealthy.

Since any politician who proposes an income tax is bound to be quickly voted out of office, Santis proposed doing away with sales tax holidays and replacing them with a rebate. The government would send taxpayers up to $500 each year to offset the sales tax, making the system fairer and the discount more effective.

'There is an awareness that we need to reform our tax code,' he explained. “Now, it’s a matter of looking at better policy tools and implementing those as opposed to just another 14-day sales tax holiday.'

He followed up by admitting longer-term tax holidays, such as the year-long break on diapers Florida instituted this year, are more effective than their fleeting cousins."

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