County sales-tax collections grow 4.4%
By Claudio Mendonça
Sales-tax collections in Miami-Dade County are up 4.4% over one year ago, according to the Florida Department of Revenue.
As of June 30, the end of fiscal 2004-05, the county recorded $34.5 billion in taxable sales compared to $32.1 billion the year before.
Most sales tax revenue comes through the purchase of motor vehicles followed, in order, by retail, office space rental and purchase, and restaurant and hotel receipts.
For fiscal 2005 the state reaped $4.46 billion worth of taxable sales from Miami-Dade car dealerships. In the previous year, taxable sales involving motor vehicles equaled $4.09 billion.
"Historically, car dealerships have been the No. 1 collector of sales taxes in the state," said Richard Baker, president of the South Florida auto-truck dealer association.
One million new vehicles are sold annually in Florida, with Miami-Dade and Broward counties accounting for about 25%, he said. In South Florida, 60% of passenger cars sold are imported models, while elsewhere in the nation more domestic cars are sold.
New residents moving to South Florida boost sales, Mr. Baker said, and car sales will continue to grow "as long as the county doesn't run out of land for new construction."
Department stores rank second in sales tax collection, according to Department of Revenue data.
One reason for merchandise sales increases is also the growing population, said Rick McCallister, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Association.
"Florida has been one of the fastest-growing states. After 2010, Florida will be surpassing New York as the third-largest state in population, only behind California and Texas," Mr. McCallister said.
The increasing number of visitors to Greater Miami, he said, is also helping spark sales in county shopping malls.
"Indication of population growth is very positive. It does have an impact on sales and services."
State coffers also profited from sale of offices and rental of commercial facilities. The state reported $3.52 billion in tax revenue in fiscal year 2005 versus $3.48 billion in 2004 in office rental and sale.
Other profitable sectors have been restaurants, ringing up $3.26 billion in taxable sales, up from last year's $3.11 billion, and hotels, which collected $1.83 billion in taxes compared to $1.64 billion a year ago.
Florida's sales tax is 6% and Miami-Dade County levies an additional 1% for two discretionary taxes: the half-penny transit surtax, in effect since Jan. 1, 2003, charged on most transactions of up to $5,000, and another half-penny for an indigent-care tax charged since January 1992.
In fiscal 2003-04, according to Peter Queirolo, Florida Department of Revenue researcher, Miami-Dade received nearly $115 million back from sales tax collection.