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Global Public Policy

FL: Members advocate for Wayfair implementation and business rent tax reduction

February 19, 2019

ICSC Florida members convened in Tallahassee last week for the annual “Days at the State Capitol” to lobby legislators on issues important to the retail real estate industry, including Wayfair implementation and business rent tax reduction. ICSC members met with House and Senate leadership, received legislative updates from Committee Chairs and partner organizations, and learned advocacy and grassroots tactics from political experts.

The Florida Legislature is currently meeting in committee session now, which will be followed by the regular legislative session that begins on March 5 and runs for 60 continuous days. During the regular session, legislators are only required to pass a balanced budget.

During their meetings with legislators, ICSC members discussed the need for the state to address the Wayfair decision by modernizing sales tax laws, providing consistent treatment between sellers, and protecting small businesses. While Florida law subjects mail order sales to the statewide 6% sales tax, the current statute must be revised to treat remote Internet sellers and bricks-and-mortar sellers equally and create a clear economic threshold, like the one adopted by South Dakota and approved by the Supreme Court. Further, Florida must address sales made through electronic marketplaces by requiring marketplace facilitators to collect and remit sales tax on all sales facilitated through that marketplace.

ICSC members also lobbied lawmakers on the continued phase-out of Florida’s business rent tax. Florida remains the only state in the nation with a sales tax on commercial leases. During the 2017 and 2018 legislative sessions, ICSC was successful in securing incremental relief to phase out the business rent tax (.2% and .1% respectively). Additional business rent tax relief is necessary to improve competitiveness and assist existing businesses.

On February 15, 2019 Senator Joe Gruters, Vice Chair of the Senate Finance and Tax Committee and Chair of the Florida Republican Party, pre-filed SB 1112. This bill would implement the Wayfair decision and address marketplace providers, while dedicating the new sales tax revenue to additional reduction of the business rent tax. ICSC members were fortunate to meet with the Senator a couple of days prior to his introduction of this bill, and ICSC is supportive of the legislation.

Thank you to ICSC Florida Government Relations Chair David Walthall for his work in making ICSC’s “Days at the State Capitol” a success.

L to r: Seth Layton (DeBartolo Development), Cashion Drolet (ICSC), George Kleier (American Commercial Realty), Bill Tomala (Cuhaci & Peterson Architects), Rep. Dane Eagle (R-Cape Coral, House Majority Leader), Ronald Goldstein (KW Commercial), Francis Rentz (SVN), ICSC FL State Director Eric Rapkin (Akerman LLP), Rod Castan (Courtelis Company), ICSC FL GR Chair David Walthall (Kimley-Horn).

Cashion Drolet

Director, State & Local Government Relations - Southern Division