Editorial: Eliminate tax exemptions

With the Florida Legislature arguing about taxes, the Senate proposed an elimination of tax exemptions Wednesday. Instead, professional sports teams, skyboxes and charter boats may be among the taxed to provide $800 million for schools. This would be a good way to garner more funding for Florida’s schools quickly and allow the state to complete its budget.

Many senators have already stated that they do not want schools to have less funding next year than they did this year. To increase funding, some taxes need to be raised. Individual taxes are unlikely to rise soon, but several products should be taxed.

Many products are given tax exemptions, but several are used mainly by affluent individuals or companies, such as skyboxes. It is ridiculous that the rich would continue to enjoy such exemptions, while poorer people would have to continue to unfairly sacrifice their own earnings to foot Florida’s education.

Such products as tanning beds and even professional sports teams are given unfair advantages by being exempt from taxation. Allowing a tax collection on them, even for one year, would provide $1 billion for education. The exemptions would only last a year unless the Legislature voted to keep them or impose them again in future years, so even this solution is temporary.

The state needs to look at more long-term solutions to the growing problem with funding Florida’s schools. With teacher hiring freezes and elimination of summer school, Florida’s educational system is trying to cope, but it is doing so at the cost of their students.

Now is the time to eliminate tax breaks for those who do not need them. The education of Florida’s youth is far more important than allowing sports teams to be exempt from paying taxes. While those exemptions are eliminated, plans should be made to ensure the future funding of Florida’s schools so this ongoing problem can actually be solved.