Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Spring 1998

Abstract

In Florida, the ad valorem property tax is the single most important source of revenue for local governments. Considerable revenue is lost to local governments when property that should be taxed is not taxed because of mistaken application of the governmental immunity doctrine. Most governmentally owned property is used by the governmental entity for governmental purposes and remains nontaxable. However, when governmentally owned property is used by a nongovernmental person for a nonexempt use, the property no longer enjoys governmental immunity and is taxable. After all, such property is being used for private, profit-seeking purposes in competition with nongovernmentally owned property being used for similar purposes; the privately owned property is taxable, and so too is the governmentally owned property. It is a matter of compelling public interest that Florida's tax system is applied in a fair, evenhanded manner--that similarly situated taxpayers be taxed in the same manner. When property is being used for private, nonexempt purposes, it should be subject to ad valorem taxation, regardless of who owns the underlying fee interest in the property. Part II of this article briefly discusses the governmental immunity doctrine and the circumstances under which it has been waived. Part III explores the waiver of immunity from ad valorem taxation in Florida when governmentally owned property is used by a nongovernmental entity for a nonexempt use. Part IV discusses the role that the state and local governments play in Florida in the imposition and collection of sales tax. Part V examines the governmental immunity doctrine in the context of Florida's gross receipts tax and documentary stamp tax.

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