Raised Taxes

During his time in the State Senate, he supported billions in tax and fee increases. In 2001, Díaz de la Portilla voted to defer a tax cut until after the recession ended.

SB 44C, Vote #20, 12/3/01, Passed 36-2, Díaz de la Portilla – ‘Yea’

Sticking to the agreement that Republican leaders forged before the start of another special session, the Florida Legislature on Wednesday approved an 18-month delay in a tax cut for investors that was scheduled to take effect next month.

The Florida House voted 102-17 to send the measure to Gov. Jeb Bush, who called for deferring the tax cut as part of an overall plan to balance the state budget. The Senate had approved the tax cut delay on Monday.

Seventeen conservative Republicans voted against the tax cut delay, but other Republicans who supported the measure called it a necessary step to help keep $128 million in state coffers and to avoid further budget cuts.

Ledger, 12/6/01

The next year, Díaz de la Portilla voted for a bill that would have increased monthly phone charges by as much as $6.95.

HB 1683, Vote #7, 3/21/02, Passed 26-9, Díaz de la Portilla – ‘Yea’

A bill passed by the Florida House of Representatives Friday could increase monthly charges for local phone service as much as $6.95, but some last-minute revisions gave utility regulators the ability to review changes on access fees.

Consumer advocates argue the changes are only minor. They claim the bill remains potentially harmful to many Florida residents who only have basic phone service or make very few instate long-distance calls each month.

The legislation, which is heavily supported by the three major local phone companies in the state -- BellSouth, Verizon and Sprint -- would require these companies to reduce the access fees they charge long-distance companies for in-state toll calls; such calls are carried on the local companies' networks.

To recoup the lost revenue, the local phone companies can raise rates for basic local service to business and residential customers. The increases would take place over a five-year period. An average BellSouth bill would go from $11 to $14.

Miami Herald, 3/16/02

The bill was criticized for placing an “undue burden” on Floridians and locking the PSC into approving these fee increases.

In a letter to leaders in both houses of the Legislature, Bob Butterworth, the state's attorney general, had raised various objections to the telecom bill.

Butterworth noted that the PSC couldn't make sure that the longdistance companies passed on their savings to consumers because the commission doesn't regulate these rates.

Despite the PSC's having regulatory authority over access fees, Mike Twomey, executive director of the Florida Utility Watch, contends that other provisions of the bill would lock the PSC into approving the changes in local rates and access fees.

Butterworth also expressed concern that this legislation would place an undue burden on Florida residents who already have a hard time affording telephone service.

Miami Herald, 3/16/02

In 2007, Díaz de la Portilla voted for a bill that drastically increased the schedule of fees charged to all outdoor sportsmen such as hunters and fishermen. This bill was estimated to bring in over $24.3 million in new tax money.

HB 7173, Vote #3, 5/1/07, Passed 36-1, Díaz de la Portilla – ‘Yea’ (after Roll Call)

HB 7173 Bill Analysis, 4/26/07

Aided by Díaz de la Portilla’s votes, the Legislature raised fees on Floridians by $181 million in 2008. Additionally, they created a new stream of recurring tax revenues costing Floridians $149 million annually.

Díaz de la Portilla’s votes increased many of the fees for government services as the Legislature increased tax revenues provided from various governmental agencies by $31 million. 

HB 5067, Vote #15, 5/2/08, Passed 38-1, Díaz de la Portilla – ‘Yea’

The bill makes a number of changes relating to the Department of Community Affairs (DCA), the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV), and the Department of Transportation (DOT), particularly to the trust funds of those agencies.

General Revenue Fund - increase of: $436.05 million DHSMV’s Law Enforcement Trust Fund - increase of: $280.392 Million Net change in state revenues: $31.146 million

HB 5067 Bill Analysis, 4/7/08

Díaz de la Portilla also voted to increase the cost to perform FDLE criminal background reports, effectively increasing revenues by $3.5 million. Further, the bill also enacted a new judicial services fee schedule that would cost the state’s taxpayers an additional $150 million in 2008. 

SB 1790, Vote #27, 5/1/08, Passed 39-0, Díaz de la Portilla – ‘Yea’

The bill increases certain service charges, court costs, and fees. The bill reassigns the funding responsibility for court juror payments from the State Court System to the clerk of the courts. Below is the estimated fiscal impact of the bill based on the increased service charges, court costs, and fees. The estimate for general revenue is based on the March 28, 2008, General Revenue Impact Conference.

SB 1790 Bill Analysis, 4/2/08

Many of the fees that Díaz de la Portilla voted for in 2008 raised costs on the backs of local businesses. The tax increased included a new fee schedule for a host of agricultural services that would raise taxes on Florida’s farmers by $3 million annually. 

SB 1702, Vote #24, 5/1/08, Passed 37-0, Díaz de la Portilla – ‘Yea’

For Fiscal Year 2008-2009, the department estimates a $3.0 million increase in recurring revenue to the General Inspection Trust Fund. This amount includes $1.0 million in the food safety inspection program and $2.0 million for the operation of the commercial feed, pesticide registration, and fertilizer inspection programs.

SB 1702 Bill Analysis, 4/23/08

The Senate also passed legislation that forced travel agents to pay up to an additional $2.5k in registration fees.

SB 1310, Vote #28, 4/30/08, Passed 36-2, Díaz de la Portilla – ‘Yea’

This bill increases fees and performance bond thresholds for sellers of travel who engage in the sale of travel services to or within terrorist states, and eliminates the use of letters of credit or 50 certificates of deposit in lieu of the bond required for registration…

Section 2 of the bill revises the registration fee schedule as follows: BILL: CS/CS/SB 1310 Page 8

• Sellers of travel who do not offer any travel services to a terrorist state must pay a $300 registration fee;

• Sellers of travel who offer any travel services to any terrorist state but engage in no other business dealings or commerce with any terrorist state must pay a $1,000 registration fee; and

• Sellers of travel who engage in the sale of any travel services to a terrorist state and also engage in other business dealings or commerce with any terrorist state must pay a $2,500 registration fee.

SB 1310 Bill Analysis, 4/23/08

Díaz de la Portilla also voted for legislation that ultimately increased the tax burden on Floridians, but the state could not quantify by how much. These fee increases affect every day citizens, rich and poor. They include a new waste management fee on marina slip owners and additional fees imposed on owners of mobile homes.

SB 1076, Vote #28, 4/24/08, Passed 39-0, Díaz de la Portilla – ‘Yea’

The bill provides definitions, enhanced penalties, and additional requirements related to the dismantling or destruction of motor vehicles and mobile homes by salvage motor vehicle dealers and secondary metals recyclers.

The bill authorizes the department to charge a $3 fee for each derelict vehicle certificate and allows that a $2.50 service charge may be collected by county tax collectors.

SB 1076 Bill Analysis, 4/16/08

SB 1094, Vote #25, 4/25/08, Passed 36-1, Díaz de la Portilla – ‘Yea’

The owner of each waterfront-landing facility will collect a fee not to exceed the costs associated with making a waste-management service available from each gambling vessel for which the waterfront-landing facility is a registered berth. DEP will establish and collect fees that are adequate to cover the entire cost to the department of developing and implementing its responsibilities, as required or authorized under the Clean Ocean Act, which concern registration of gambling vessels, tracking of releases, compliance with the act and enforcement of the act.

SB 1094 Bill Analysis, 4/15/08

The Senate passed a $1.8 billion tax increase on cigarettes in addition to $375.9 million in other fee increases. Díaz de la Portilla voted in favor of this legislation.

SB 1840, Vote #8, 5/8/09, Passed 40-0, Díaz de la Portilla – ‘Yea’

This legislation creates the Protecting Florida’s Health Act. It levies a $1 per pack surcharge on cigarettes and a $1 per ounce surcharge on tobacco products other than cigarettes, including cigars…The Revenue Estimating Conference has determined that the net additional revenue attributable to the levy of a $1 surcharge on cigarettes is $870.0 million in FY 2009-2010 and $915.4 million in FY 2010-2011.

SB 1840 Bill Analysis, 4/9/09 

In addition to the untold billions of dollars generated by the cigarette tax increase, Díaz de la Portilla voted to raise the tax burden on Floridians by an additional $375.9 million in 2009, in a variety of ways. This included over $16 million in recurring tax revenues, disregarding SB 1778, which does not provide recurring revenue estimates.

Díaz de la Portilla voted to approve a 10% increase on driver’s licenses, among other DMV fee increases. 

SB 1778, Vote #16, 5/8/09, Passed 40-0, Díaz de la Portilla – ‘Yea’

This bill increases fees imposed on motor vehicle registration, certificates of title, drivers licenses and identification cards, drivers license examinations, driver’s license reinstatements following a suspension, and motor vehicle and driver’s license list and driver history records…. Provides for a 10% increase on the annual license tax imposed on motor vehicles. The Revenue Impact Conference met on April 3, 2009, and provided an estimate of $365.5 million in new revenue for Fiscal Year 2009-2010.

SB 1778 Bill Analysis, 4/9/09

Díaz de la Portilla also voted to increase fees and require a license of anyone who fished from the shore or a saltwater pier. 

HB 1423, Vote #11, 5/1/09, Passed 39-0, Díaz de la Portilla – ‘Yea’

The bill requires all Florida residents to possess a saltwater fishing license if fishing from Florida’s saltwater shoreline or from a structure fixed to the land. The bill creates a shoreline fishing license. The cost of the license is $7.50.

2009 Revenues- $3.2 million

Recurring Revenues- $7.4 million

HB 1423 Bill Analysis, 4/23/09 

Díaz de la Portilla’s votes also led to an additional $8.8 million in tax increases on things such as weighing and measuring devices and Department of Transportation services. 

SB 1744, Vote #11, 5/8/09, Passed 39-0, Díaz de la Portilla – ‘Yea’

The bill establishes a permit and testing program for weighing and measuring devices and sets a maximum fee to be paid by the device owner. The department estimates that the fees will generate $2.2 million in annual revenue.

SB 1744 Bill Analysis, 4/8/09

HB 5013, Vote #34, 5/8/09, Passed 39-0, Díaz de la Portilla – ‘Yea’

The bill makes changes to the interstate highway logo sign program within the Department of Transportation. The bill is effective upon becoming law. The bill has a positive fiscal impact to the State Transportation Trust Fund of approximately $4.4 million in FY 2009-10 and $6 million in each year thereafter from the revised logo sign program fees.

HB 5013 Bill Analysis, 4/6/09

SB 1748, Vote #12, 5/8/09, Passed 40-0, Díaz de la Portilla – ‘Yea’

The bill authorizes the department to assess an administrative collection processing fee to offset payment processing and administrative costs incurred by the state due to noncompliant filing events. The department shall collect this fee from any taxpayer who fails to pay the amount of tax and penalty due within 90 days of initial notification of the noncompliant filing event. The fee shall be equal to ten percent of the amount of tax and penalty or $10, whichever is greater… The elimination of these state subsidies will result in a $630,000 positive impact to general revenue.

SB 1748 Bill Analysis, 4/8/09

Díaz de la Portilla’s home county, Miami-Dade, has some of the highest property taxes in the state. As a conservative, one would think that Díaz de la Portilla would be looking to lessen this tax burden on property owners. However, he voted for a bill that did just the opposite. 

SB 2430, Vote #28, 5/1/09, Passed 39-0, Díaz de la Portilla – ‘Yea’

Discretionary Surtax on Documents: Extends future repeal date of provisions authorizing counties to levy discretionary surtax on documents; limits percentage of surtax revenues used for administrative costs; specifies minimum amount of surtax revenues used for housing for low-income & moderate-income families; requires affirmative vote of local government governing body to rehabilitate governmentally owned housing; authorizes specified counties to create by ordinance housing choice assistance voucher program for down payment assistance; provides voucher eligibility requirements; authorizes purchasing employers to file for allocations for such vouchers; limits allocations; requires distribution of allocations to employees in voucher form; prohibits use of voucher allocations if not awarded within specified period after documentary stamps taxes are collected; requires OPPAGA to review & report on operation of discretionary surtax program; revises criteria determining liability for payment of tax; provides criteria, requirements, & limitations on consideration for specified transfers of interests in real property; expands requirements for counties levying surtax to include housing plan, affordable housing element, & annual reporting requirements.

Companion Bill passed CS/CS/CS/SB 2430 Taxation of Documents [WPSC] By Policy and Steering Committee on Ways and Means and Finance and Tax and Judiciary and Lawson and Gelber

HB 283 Bill Summary, 2009

Not only did the bill safeguard Miami-Dade’s discretionary surtax on documents, it also gave them the authority to levy another tax, which would help expand public housing programs in the county. 

The documentary stamp tax imposes an excise tax on deeds or other documents that convey an interest in Florida real property. The tax rate is 70 cents on each $100 of consideration for deeds, instruments, or writings whereby lands, tenements, or other real property, or any interest therein, are granted, assigned, transferred, conveyed, or vested in a purchaser, there are also various exemptions and limitations to imposition of the documentary stamp tax.

The proceeds of the tax go to the state to fund a variety of state programs and are distributed based on a statutory formula. Miami-Dade County’s local discretionary surtax authority was grandfathered in at a rate of 60 cents when the state documentary stamp tax was increased in 1992.

The bill extends the authority for Miami-Dade County to assess a discretionary surtax on documents by extending the surtax sunset from October 1, 2011, to October 1, 2031. The bill further requires financial audits by the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) of surtax revenues and expenditures, creates reporting requirements, authorizes the adoption of a housing plan every 3 years, limits the amount of surtax revenues which may be used for administrative expenses and specifies percentages of surtax revenues be used to provide homeownership assistance and percentages of surtax revenues to be used for construction, rehabilitation, or purchase of rental housing.

The bill also allows Miami-Dade County, at the option of the county governing board, to create and administer a Housing Choice Assistance Voucher program. It would allow private-sector employers that pay the surtax to apply to the county for housing assistance.

The bill closes a tax avoidance technique by imposing the documentary stamp tax on certain transfers of ownership interests in artificial entities. The tax applies to situations where the owners of real property transfer the property to a wholly-owned artificial entity and subsequently an ownership interest in the artificial entity is transferred for consideration within one year of the initial transfer of the property to the artifial entity. The bill has two separate fiscal issues.

The Revenue Estimating Conference has not determined a fiscal impact for section 3. of the bill dealing with the applicability of the documentary stamp tax to transfers of ownership interests. Staff estimates that the provisions of the bill will result in additional tax revenues being received by the state and Miami-Dade County. On March 27th, 2009 the REC also adopted a fiscal impact related to the extension of the Miami-Dade Surtax. The REC estimated that beginning in FY 2011-12 the extension of this sunset would have a -$8 million impact on state revenues.

The fiscal impact on local government due to the Miami-Dade Discretionary Surtax would be $9.5 million. In FY 2012-13, the impact on state revenues would grow to -$14.5 million. The fiscal impact on local government due to the Miami-Dade Discretionary Surtax would be $17.2 million.

SB 2430 Bill Analysis, 4/10/09

Díaz de la Portilla voted to increase fees on small businesses in 2010 by eliminating a fee exception paid only by corporate entities that are late in meeting the state’s annual corporate filing deadlines. The revenues expected to be gained from this exemption repeal are approximately $16.4 million in 2010 and $8 to $9 million annually after that. 

HB 5505, Vote #13, 4/6/10, Passed 35-4, Díaz de la Portilla – ‘Yea’

The bill amends s. 607.193, F.S., deleting an exception to a $400 late charge that is imposed when a corporation, a limited liability company, or a limited partnership fails to meet the deadline and files its annual report after May 1.

According to the Economic and Demographic Research Impact Conference, the bill has an estimated positive fiscal impact to the General Revenue Fund of $16.4 million in Fiscal Year 2010-11. Estimates for the following fiscal years are between $8.8 million and $9.6 million.

HB 5505 Bill Analysis, 4/30/10

Additionally, he voted to increase fees associated with pollution mitigation in Florida’s lake belt regions.

HB 1271, Vote #36, 4/29/10, Passed 36-0, Díaz de la Portilla – ‘Yea’

The bill addresses numerous issues related to transportation. Specifically, the bill: …

amends s. 373.41492, F.S., to increase the lake belt mitigation fee to 45 cents per ton, beginning on December 31, 2011. The bill also adds a sunset date of December 31, 2011 to the annual increase of 2.1 percent plus a cost growth index, in the per-ton mitigation fee… The Lake Belt Mitigation Trust Fund administered by the South Florida Water Management District will see some additional revenues, beginning on December 31, 2011, due to the increase in the lake belt mitigation fee.

HB 1271 Bill Analysis, 4/21/10