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GOP Lawmaker Files Bill to Raise Florida's Sales Tax by 3 Percent

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It's not often you see Republican politicians filing bills to raise taxes, but that's exactly what Rep. Fred Costello of Ormond Beach has done. He has introduced a bill that would add a 3 percent surtax to Florida's sales tax. The bill also supports the idea of added taxes to Internet purchases and bottled water. Doesn't sound very Republican, does it? Well, the bill would also repeal property taxes.

Under HB1181, property taxes collected to fund local education would be eliminated. The 3 percent "education surtax" would instead be enacted beginning in 2013.

Florida's sales tax is already 6 percent, but that rate is higher in some counties. In Miami-Dade, for example, residents and visitors would pay a hefty 10 percent sales tax under Costello's plan.

However, Costello thinks the surtax could eventually be rolled back by adding taxes to bottled water and Internet purchases. Gov. Rick Scott supports the idea of an Internet sales tax (yes, Scott favors the creation of a new tax), but only if other taxes are reduced or eliminated.

Most notably, the bill would eliminate property taxes used to fund local schools, which might sound good to some Floridians but not all. Basically this translates to a pretty hefty tax hike on poorer residents (who are more likely to rent or own less property) and a tax break boon to wealthier, property-owning residents. Ah, yes, now that sounds more Republican.

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