Where is that “Extra Penny” Sales Tax Approved by Voters in 2016 Going?

In the 2016 general election, Palm Beach County voters approved a plan for the government to increase their sales tax by 16.7 percent, even though it was marketed by local government as a just an extra penny to the sales tax.

The near 17 percent sales tax increase was implemented on top of all the existing sales tax and other taxes residents and tourists regularly pay. Those taxes include and are not limited to property taxes (paid by property owners and renters), tourist taxes (hotel, cruises, and car rental), local business taxes, automobile registration taxes, local gas tax at the pump (plus state and federal gas taxes), tangible personal property taxes, boating taxes, hunting and fishing taxes, taxes on when a baby is born in the county, and road toll taxes.

The surtax is scheduled to end on December 31, 2026, or until $2.7 billion in additional taxpayer money has been collected, whichever comes first. So how much has been collected and where has the money gone? The Palm Beach County government has received $300 million from the additional tax, cities have received $200 million, and the county School Board has received over $500 million.

Graphic Courtesy of Palm Beach County Office of Inspector General

The additional taxpayer money has been used on various infrastructure projects including drainage, roads, streetlights, sidewalks, wastewater facilities, etc. For example, the City of Boca Raton used some of its money to open the Hillsboro El Rio 14-acre park on top of an old city landfill off SW 18th St. The City of Boynton Beach used some of the money to implement an RFID system for its new library and to help with renovation costs for the old high school building across the street. The Town of Palm Beach is using some of the money to fund the burying of power lines.

Graphic Courtesy of Palm Beach County Office of Inspector General

Categories: Business, Financial, Government

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