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DeSantis wants failed Hillsborough transportation tax money to be paid back to taxpayers

In his proposed budget, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he wants Hillsborough County to give the nearly $570 million collected back to those who paid it.

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he wants the state to refund the failed Hillsborough County transportation sales tax back to the people who paid it.

In November 2018, Hillsborough voters approved the 30-year, one-cent increase in the county's sales tax to specifically pay for transportation improvement. Then, in December of that year, Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White filed a lawsuit challenging that tax.

Fast forward to February 2021, Florida's Supreme Court said the way the amendment restricted where the money brought in by the tax could be spent was unconstitutional. By then, some $569 million had already been collected.

Two weeks ago, county commissioners held a workshop laying out potential projects that the money could be spent on. However, under the governor’s budget proposal, the money is required to be returned to taxpayers. 

DeSantis said he wants the Department of Revenue to work with a third party claims administrator. As for who qualifies and how much money will be left over, that still remains unclear.

In a draft memo from the Tampa Mobility Department, the mobility director writes, “the process for receiving funds and for which projects will unfold as decisions are issued from the legislature and governor’s office."

If the legislature agrees to the proposed budget, requests from the public for a refund would be due by February of next year.

10 Tampa Bay reached out to the governor’s office for clarification on specifics of exactly how the claim process would work. As of this report, we have not heard back yet. 

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