Will you Vote For Highest Sales Tax in State? For a St. Pete-Clearwater Train?

Visit  RailTaxFacts.Org to learn more about the 14% Sales Tax Hike for Light Rail

As people engage in Christmas Shopping this season, they should look fondly at the 7% Pinellas sales tax on their bills. It may be the one of the last Christmastimes where they see it. In November 2014, voters will be asked to approve a 14.28% tax hike to raise sales taxes from 7 cents to 8 cents of every dollar spent.  That tax will remove $130 million annually from the pockets of citizens and the private economy and place it into the hands of a bloated government bureaucracy: PSTA. PSTA, after failing to provide good transportation on a healthy budget for years, will then more than quadruple its bloated budget. PSTA claims it will re-engineer and expand the bus system and then build a train from St. Petersburg to Clearwater. All while hoping that the Federal Government will produce over a $1 billion for rail as our Federal deficit grows.

Pinellas County already has added an extra “penny” to the sales tax through the “Penny for Pinellas” sales tax that is subject to voter approval every ten years.  Raising the tax another “penny” is not a 1% sales tax hike, as proponents claim, but a 14% sales tax hike.  Here’s the math:

Formula: (new rate-old rate/old rate)*100=Percent Change
8-7 = 1
1÷7=  .1428
.1428 x 100 = 14.28% sales tax hike

The Rate in Hillsborough county is currently 7% as is Pasco County.  The Rate in Manatee County is 6.5%. Certainly, businesses and “economic development” agencies in those counties will be running ads here in Pinellas to “save money and shop across the county line”.   The local tourist agencies will be advertising out of state to “Come to Manatee County, same Beaches, better prices”.   The increased sales tax will cause pressures for upward pay for local labor, further increasing costs – to compensate for “high cost of living”. Business will have higher costs to pay to local vendors and pass those costs on to consumers.  Money will be drained from the private economy that could be better spent for private prosperity – and given to a bloated bureaucracy.

Imagine buying any of the following new items in Pinellas vs. Manatee County.  It is interesting to note that it is the “Progressive” politicians pushing hardest for this regressive sales tax hike. How hard does a poor person have to work to earn the extra $9 after scrimping and saving for years for a new television? How will Boat and Car dealers in Pinellas fare as their customers are siphoned off to Manatee, Pasco and Hillsborough. How many jobs will be lost then?

Item Pinellas – 8% Sales Tax (2015) Manatee 6.5% Sales Tax Savings by shopping
Outside Pinellas County
$600 Flat Screen Television $48 $39 $9
$1,200 Refrigerator  $96 $78 $18
$2,000 Christmas Shopping Bill $160 $130 $30
$4,000 Vacation Package
(for Tourist)
$320 $260 $60
A previous version of this table has been correct to reflect that the 8% sales tax would only apply to the first $5,000 or the 8% – making it more Regressive.  The tax cap also has many loopholes that allow government to collect the full 8% on commercial real estate, utility bills and more. See updated post here: http://www.sunbeamtimes.com/2013/12/04/14-sales-tax-hike-for-rail-more-regressive-than-other-sales-taxes-and-broader-than-claimed-will-harm-economy/

Local voters will continue be inundated by tax-payer funded propaganda campaign called the “Greenlight Pinellas” to promote the tax hike.  All sorts of promises will be made regarding jobs, economic development, environmental impact and more.  Pinellas voters are better served by remembering that Tampa voters rejected a similar tax hike for rail barely two years ago.  Voters will find more facts from average citizens standing up against more taxes at the website of the organization “No Tax for Tracks“.

Visit RailTaxFacts.Org to learn more about the 14% Sales Tax Hike for Light Rail

7 Replies:

  1. tom48212

    Leadership calls this a Tax Swap. I call this tax proposal more like welfare for commercial property owners, owners of multiple properties and vacationers who choose to use the mass transit system. The Suncoast Transit Authority tax portion of our ad valorem taxes will be eliminated. And our local option sales tax will increase one penny. By doing so THEY tell us revenues for mass transit will triple. I gave my first grade grandson a couple pennies and made up a story problem using the above example and asked him the ultimate question “who was going to pay for this mass transit system”? He told me it has to be me “papa”, it has to be me, him when he gets older and his children when he gets married. He added, papa, you never walk across US 19, I don’t want you to cross US 19, don’t walk across US 19, it is too dangerous papa. Don’t vote for this. This is not a good idea at all. Mind you he is in first grade!!!

  2. Mark

    Come on. As with the unnecessary pier boondoggle, the most important thing is how much money will be siphoned off into the politicians’ pockets. Plus, their supporters and relatives need good government jobs, and just think how much safer we will all be with an expanded TSA presence that comes with mass transit. Clearly, this is a winning combination for everyone, even those who don’t want to pay their fair share for trains and buses that almost no one rides.

  3. Leonard Schmiege

    I the interest of having a precise analysis of this proposed tax: I offer the following, from the state of Florida website, it appears there may be a cap of $5000 for which county discretionary sales tax applies, further investigation is required to know for sure if this currently applies to Pinellas currently.

    Limit on Amount of Tax Charged
    In many cases, there is a limit to the amount of tax charged. Discretionary sales surtax applies to the first $5,000 of the sales amount on the sale, use, lease, rental, or license to use any item of tangible personal property. Tangible personal property is personal property that you can see, weigh, measure, or touch or is in any manner perceptible to the senses, including electric power or energy. The $5,000 cap does not apply to rentals of real property, transient rentals, or services.

    Here is the link to the county surtax rate chart.
    There are a few at 1.5%

  4. kevin Wright

    Let me get this straight: Amazon.com is coming to the Bay area, and we want to impress Jeff Bezos with modern transit options, that were conceived in the 19th century, and outmoded in the 20th century. ??????????? The future is on the drawing boards now: robotic vehicles will transform every aspect of our lives. Today’s Leaders understand this, THEY are spending billions to make it happen. Let is happen here first. Yet totalitarians, income re-distributionists, want to tie us to a failed past with a big public purchase and a tax increase.

  5. Dorine McKinnon

    What they aren’t telling the pubic is that PSTA is already a taxing authority and as such raised our millage rate from .5601 to .7305 last year, garnering them $6.1 million increase. This tax increase demonstrates that PSTA has the ability raise revenue for improving the bus system. What they don’t have and want is the ability to fund a light rail project. Remember, these are the folks who have provided us with the current crappy bus system that never leaves a main road to pick up or drop off riders, whereas buses run by better municipalities will run their buses through subdivisions, into apartment complexes and mainly take winding routes so that riders don’t have to walk as far to get to a bus stop and can be dropped off at the front doors of shopping malls, medical complexes and the like. These are not among the ‘improvements’ that is being proposed. Instead, Based off a $60 million dollar budget, they look forward to $26 million in extra revenue for expanding the bus service and $19 million for the new light rail. However, their annual operating costs for both will be $40 million for buses and $29 million for light rail according to their estimates.

    So once again, do we want to give the people who cannot run the buses more money, or would it be more prudent to vote down the extra penny and force them to improve the bus system they have before coming hat-in-hand with a grand scheme that will probably cost more than their estimates and will won’t improve service to their core constituency?

    Oh and finally by their own analysis they will bag $128 million annually from the sales tax, but according to them it will take the entire amount to run the current system but their analysis they included the ad velorum property taxes.. so is any of their analysis accurate or is it just smoke and mirrors geared to sell the public on allowing them to buy PSTA a new toy train set?


  6. ron thompson

    I’m late here, but just now saw the tax analysis table. It is omits information which makes it misleading, and downright scary.

    Anyone leaving pinellas to shop in manatee (6.5% – 8%) has to pay $2.50 to cross the skyway bridge. The have to drive anywhere from 40 to 120 miles (by car) to get to the store. Will that store deliver to pinellas, or will they need to bring back their TV, fridge, or $2000 shopping spree thus needing a big low mileage gas guzzler for the trip. Fuel could be anywhere from $5 (VERY conservative) to $25 or more on the high end. I always add in wear and tear as I don’t repair my own car so a water pump, new tires, fanbelt are all expensive. 100 miles is another $2.50.

    If you live in North county, Tarpon, EastLake, Countryside, you might decide to make the short drive to hillsborough. Its my experience that most of my neighbors already shop often at Citrus Park, but the 7% hills. tax will only save 1% in this example.

    I know some people will do this on principle, and that’s what makes America great. Some people will never buy a GM car after the current administration bailout. Some will refuse solar power, even with tax subsidies. We know many angry about health insurance penalties that will never apply to their own medicare or VA coverage. Others demand fracking and the keystone pipeline. Yet others embrace or oppose these various programs.

    As each American “votes with their wallet” and “with their feet” some may drive some distance for the satisfaction of beating this tax (if it passes). But after figuring out it cost them half a days time for the price of lunch at McDonalds, only the most politically dedicated will do it twice.

    1. Boss Tweed

      Great thinking, Ronny (the taxman) Thompson.

      Don’t think about where the money will be spent or who it will really benefit, right? Just remember that a little tax increase here and there is really good, right? After all, we have a consumer “democracy” so if those poor Pinellas County residents cannot afford to pay, they can just move away, right?

      There was big hit song that was written about you and your pro-government tax mongers, but of course, the Ministry doesn’t allow it to be played on the radio any more. Still, check it out at http://youtu.be/Oyu5sFzWLk8

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