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Monday, April 27, 2009

Springs Bill / Everglades and Forever Funding

Springs Bill/ SB 274
The Florida Springs Protection Act requires the Department of Environmental Protection to adopt a priority list of first and second magnitude springs, and designates all counties and cities with first or second magnitude springs within their jurisdiction as spring protection zones. The bill establishes requirements for spring protection zones for domestic wastewater discharge and wastewater residual application, onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems in specified areas, agricultural operations, animal feeding operations, and stormwater systems.

Everglades and Florida Forever Funding/SB 2430
The Florida State Senate has proposed to raise funds for Everglades restoration and the Florida Forever program by closing a tax loophole that allows corporations to avoid real-estate taxes. A recent amendment to a Senate Bill eliminating the tax loophole provides for $100 million dollars in bonding for environmental projects: $50 million for the Everglades and $50 for Florida Forever. As currently drafted, $10 million is appropriated to bond the $100 million, plus funds for paying debt service. However, it should be noted that the underlying bill which eliminates a significant tax loophole is likely to remain controversial as it could be interpreted as increasing taxes. The bill provides that it is the Legislature’s intent to reverse the Florida Supreme Court’s Crescent opinion [Crescent Miami Center, LLC v. Florida Department of Revenue, 903 So.2d 913 (Fla. 2005)] relating to the application of the excise tax on documents to certain real-estate transactions and allowing a tax loophole. The court decision eliminates stamp tax when a single member LLC owning real property sells its membership interest to an unrelated party. A deed may be recorded after a merger without payment of the tax. The resulting loophole created widespread structuring of real property transfers to avoid the stamp tax and has reduced the importance of a significant revenue source for the State.

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