Florida Residents Decry Proposed Sales Tax Hike: ‘Extremely Unfair’

A proposed hike on sales taxes in Florida in favor of eliminating property taxes has caused division among residents.

Republican Rep. Ryan Chamberlin has put forward a bill that proposes eliminating property taxes in favor of establishing a new sales tax. After Florida’s House Ways and Means Committee voted 15-6 in favor of the bill on February 1, the proposal requests a study be completed to evaluate the shortfall to the government if property tax were abolished and how the missing revenue would be made up for. If successful, the changes would not come into place until 2025 onwards once the study is complete.

Property owners and renters in the state have both expressed concerns about the bill. While some homeowners told Newsweek they are happy to have their property taxes eliminated in favor of a hike across goods and services, many said they believe eliminating taxes on one group and pushing the burden onto a wider range of people is unfair.

Erik Schofield of Fort Lauderdale told Newsweek: “I pay $3,400 a year in property taxes and I do so with the acknowledgement that these taxes are used to pay for county/city/school district services that everyone benefits from, and I see it as a relatively small price to pay in the grand scheme of things.”

Schofield said there would be no winners if there was an increase in sales tax as it would create a higher tax burden across the board. “This proposal is a poorly thought-out idea by a state legislative body that has shifted way too far to the right and seems to only favor the financially well-off with total disregard for those who are less fortunate,” Schofield added.

Jane Helms lives in Florida and does not own her own home. “I think it is extremely unfair for residents that do not own a home to have to pay a high sales tax for people that own a house to save money,” she told Newsweek.

“We have already been hit hard with the cost of groceries and everything else being so high. I cannot afford to eat healthy food as it is. I live with my son and, in the last four years, he is now paying $500 a month more in rent than when we moved in.”

Marie Jones, who has owned her home in Port St. Lucie since 2000, told Newsweek: “This has got to be one of the stupidest ideas they have come up with. It is an attack on the low income and middle class and a win for the rich.”

Jones said that, given Florida’s popularity with holidaymakers and second-home owners, the financial burden will be heaviest on permanent residents. She added: “Property taxes are one of the few taxes wealthy people have to pay. The people who come down seasonally will not be carrying the consumption tax; it will be the year-round residents.”

Some Floridians have said, however, that they would be happy with the abolishment of property tax, even if it means a rise in the cost of goods. Greg Pabich, from Tallahassee, told Newsweek he would be “delighted to trade no property taxes for even a substantial increase in sales tax.” He said that, after a remodel to his home, which pushed the value in excess of $700,000, he now pays property taxes exceeding $10,000 per year.

Janette Arnold, from Brooksville, told Newsweek she would be “very much be in favor of no property taxes and higher sales tax.” She agreed with Chamberlin’s sentiments that homeowners do not really own their homes if they continue to pay the state for the privilege of ownership.

“We all simply rent it from the state, and as long as we pay those rents, then we can use the property we hold a deed for,” Chamberlin said previously, according to the Pensacola News Journal. “This is not a tax; it is slavery.”

Others also took issue with Chamberlin equating paying property tax to slavery. Richard Brescia, a homeowner in Polk County, told Newsweek he believes Chamberlin’s equation of property taxes to slavery is nonsense. Brescia said: “They need to rethink they’re approach to this issue and how it is framed.”

A stock image of a person using a cash register. Property taxes could be eliminated in favor of increased sales taxes in Florida.