In Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, Florida collected $64.7 billion in state and local taxes. While this is an impressive sum of money, it tells us little about whether or not the average Florida taxpayer can afford this level of taxation.
As shown in Chart 1, Florida’s state and local tax burden (tax collections divided by personal income) was the second lowest in the nation for FY 2013 at 8.1 percent—or 22 percent below the national average of 10.3 percent. As shown in Chart 2, Florida is one of five states whose tax burden has actually declined over time, falling by -16 percent to 8.1 percent in FY 2013 from 9.6 percent in FY 1950 –the other states are Arizona, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and South Dakota.
Florida’s low state and local tax burden can be first attributed to not having an individual or corporate income tax since they tend to be progressive (higher tax rates on higher levels of income) which increases the tax burden over time. Additionally, Florida has been reducing the property tax and all other taxes with declines of -27 percent and -58 percent, respectively.
Of course, the tax burdens for local government can vary just as much as they do among the 50 states. As such, we have also calculated the local government tax burden for every county in Florida—this includes every taxing jurisdiction within the geographic county borders whether it is a city, a special district, or county government itself.
The Florida counties with the highest local government tax burden include: Putnam County, FL (8.8 percent), Franklin County, FL (7 percent), and Hamilton County, FL (6.8 percent). The Florida counties with the lowest local government tax burden include: Holmes County, FL (1.9 percent), Union County, FL (2 percent), and Santa Rosa County, FL (2 percent).
J. Scott Moody has nearly 20 years experience as a public policy economist with a specialty in tax policy and has over 180 publications. He has worked for numerous national and state-based think tanks such as the American Conservative Union Foundation, Federalism In Action, Tax Foundation, Heritage Foundation, and The Maine Heritage Policy Center.