Citrus Commission considers tax relief

If implemented, the proposed one-year tax cut would return money to growers without cutting FDOC programs.

BARTOW, Fla. – In an effort to provide relief to growers, the Florida Citrus Commission discussed a staff proposal Wednesday to study tax cuts collected on citrus boxes in the 2014-15 season.

The one-year tax cut, if implemented as discussed, would be expected to have an impact on Florida Department of Citrus revenue of approximately $5 million and could possibly be achieved, according to executive director Doug Ackerman, without cutting FDOC programs.

“At the direction of the Commission and in response to the realities of our industry, we have engaged in conservative budgeting while making very strategic, very targeted investments in our operations. We have built capacity, even as we have built our fund balance. That fund balance creates flexibility, and that flexibility allows us to consider the cuts we’ve discussed.”

According to Ackerman, no formal proposal would be brought to the Commission until after the October 10 crop forecast, upon which the Department’s 2014-15 budget will be based.

On Wednesday citrus commissioners directed staff to proceed with further analysis of the one-year tax abatement initiative, with a recommendation to be delivered at the FCC’s October 22 meeting.

On Wednesday the Department described possible maximum cuts of $.03 for the processed orange category and $.07 to the fresh and processed grapefruit and fresh and processed specialty categories.

Such a cut would reduce the FDOC’s reserve fund balance but would not affect the overall operating budget of the department.

The Commission received staff’s proposal with favorable discussion and will formally vote on the recommendation at its regularly scheduled October meeting.

“I’m proud of the conservative approach the Department has taken with grower dollars in recent years. Smart decision-making has put us in a position to return precious resources directly to the growers we serve. That’s a good feeling,” said Chairman Marty McKenna.