Florida League of Cities

Rural Economic Development (Support)

SB 800 (Albritton) and HB 685 (Drake) authorize municipalities to exempt by ordinance the public service tax on electrical energy for qualified purchasers determined by the Department of Revenue (DOR). The bills also provide a sales tax exemption for building materials being used to revitalize real property located within an opportunity zone. The bills specify that the sales tax exemption will be distributed in the form of a refund on previously paid taxes if the property owner, lessee, or lessor files an application with the local government that the opportunity zone is located. The bills specify the information that the applicant will be required to provide in their application to the local government and give the local government ten business days to certify the application for completeness and transmit it to DOR. The applicant is also required to forward the application to DOR. Applications for a sales tax refund must be submitted to DOR within six months of the real property being deemed "substantially completed" by the local building inspector. Applicants are limited to one application per property, and the amount must exceed $500. Additionally, the bills expand this tax exemption to include electrical energy being used by a business that operates in an opportunity zone for up to 50% of the tax imposed if the municipality chooses to adopt an ordinance. The bills also modify some parameters of the Rural Job Tax Credit Program by removing the minimum number of employees and increasing the tax credit per employee from $1,000 to $2,500. The bills also create the Rural Opportunity Tax Refund Program intended to provide tax relief for new, qualified targeted businesses that bring economic diversity and high-wage jobs to rural areas. In order for a qualified targeted business to receive this tax benefit, the municipality where the business will be located must adopt a resolution recommending the applicant be approved. (Taggart)