Editor: Last week a writer made some inaccurate assumptions about the transit funding change being proposed by the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority and the Pinellas Board of County Commissioners.
He claimed that using the phrase tax swap was not proper because, in his case, he would be paying more if the current PSTA property tax were replaced by a 1 percent sales tax. However, for many Pinellas County residents that funding change would mean lower taxes to support a vastly improved transit system in our community. Here are some of the facts that the letter writer omitted and people need to know:
• The 1 percent sales tax would be capped at $5,000 so if you were to make a large purchase such as a car, the most that could be levied is an additional $50.
• How the tax affects people is on a case-by-case basis depending upon income, property value and spending habits. To see how it will affect your family, you can use the IRS Sales Tax Deduction Calculator found here as a guide: www.irs.gov/Individuals/Sales-Tax-Deduction-Calculator. You’ll have to divide the final number by 7 (our current sales tax rate) to get your final number.
• Based on my TRIM notice, income and home value, which is right at the median home value for Clearwater (where I live), my family and I would be paying about $24 a year more under the proposed funding change, nothing near the $300 increase that the letter writer claims.
• The bulk of PSTA’s current funding comes from the property taxes levied on Pinellas County’s 434,104 parcels. Switching to a 1 percent sales tax will increase the tax base to the entire county population (approximately 921,000) PLUS the 5.4 million tourists and visitors who enjoy our wonderful community every year.
I encourage this writer and all residents of our fine County to visit www.GreenlightPinellas.com to learn the facts about the transportation plan, its funding proposal, background data, studies and potential impact on Pinellas County no matter what voters decide in 2014.
Bob Lasher External affairs officer Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority