Governor Bush Signs New Florida Tax Laws

June 13, 2006

Governor Bush signed into law two interesting tax bills recently. One bill repealed the despised per-alcoholic drink tax and the other provided a property tax exemption to a bible amusement park.

Governor Bush signed a bill repealing Florida’s tax on alcoholic drinks. The measure does away with the last of the per-drink tax, which has long been a bane of restaurants and bars, because owners say it costs them more to collect and remit than it brings in for the state.

And the Holy Land Experience biblical theme park near Orlando won’t have to pay property tax under a bill Bush signed.

Park officials describe the five year old Holy Land Experience as more of a Bible-based history museum aimed at religious education. Visitors can enter a replica of Jesus’ tomb, or see Jesus heal a blind man, climb the stairs of a faux Herod’s Temple and travel down a re-creation of the Via Dolorosa.

Full story here.

The drink tax was levied on each drink served at a rate of 3.34 cents for 1 ounce of spirits or 4 ounces of wine, 1.34 cents per 12 ounces of beer and 2 cents for 12 ounces of cider. The rate structure alone made the tax difficult to administer.

The property tax exemption for the biblical theme park is difficult to justify from a neutrality perspective. All amusements parks should be taxed at the same rate so as not to create distortions in the market favoring one type of park over another. Even though the park is owned by a nonprofit group and has an educational theme, it should be taxed like all other parks. See a recent paper by Andrew Chamberlain on charitable deductions to learn more.

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