Tax numbers are in; and for Florida, it’s a mixed bag.
However, there is a disclaimer for Florida’s reputation as a low-tax state. The Sunshine State comes in third for the lowest per capita tax amount of state tax paid, but when adding local taxes, the tax burden increases and the state ranking falls to 36, according to Tallahassee-based Florida TaxWatch.
A new report from the nonpartisan government watchdog group does a deep dive into the numbers for its 2015 How Florida Compares Taxes State and Local. Florida relies more heavily on local governments to pay for public services than any other state, the study finds.
“In fact, more than half, 54.8 percent of all government revenues in Florida are raised by local government,” writes report author Kurt Wenner.
Wenner found that is more than New York at 53.6 percent, Georgia, 53.3 percent and Texas, 51 percent.
At the same time, Florida state tax collections remain among the lowest in the nation, only New Hampshire and Georgia posted lower numbers. When all state and local revenues are included Florida falls into the bottom half among the 50 states (ranked 36) with its citizens’ total tax bill higher than that of neighbors in Alabama, ranked 41, Mississippi at 43 and Georgia, ranked 48.
TaxWatch compiles the information each year as a reference tool for taxpayers and policymakers.
“The nearly 50 tables, charts, and graphs in this report provide comprehensive information on state and local tax rates, tax collections and other government revenues for all 50 states,” said TaxWatch CEO Dominic Calabro. “Florida’s different tax rankings paint a picture for taxpayers that helps Floridians understand how state and local governments work together to provide necessary services.”
Among this year’s findings are:
Florida state revenues are significantly less than the U.S. average. Per capita state revenue in Florida is 71 percent of the U.S. average.
Businesses pay more than half, 53 percent, of all state and local taxes in Florida, the 10th highest percentage in the nation and higher than the national average of 45 percent.
Florida has the highest state and local excise taxes on utilities and ranks 12th for motor fuel taxes and 14th for alcohol beverages.
Sales tax revenue is still rebounding from the Great Recession. After posting a number 4 ranking in per capita sales tax collections in 2006, the ranking was 11th in 2012 and is now at 8.
When all the calculations are completed, TaxWatch found that over-all state government tax collections, on a per-capita basis, is at the lowest point in decades but as the economy recovers from the recession, the state is collecting more revenue from the sales and documentary taxes.
The full report can be read here.