Florida governor wants refunds issued to eligible Hillsborough taxpayers for failed transportation tax

Governor Ron DeSantis has issued a directive to refund taxpayers for the $570 million raised by Hillsborough County through its now-defunct transportation sales surtax.

The proposal is part of the governor‘s 2023 budget and calls for a third-party claims administrator to create a refund process for "eligible taxpayers who demonstrate they paid the discretionary sales surtax."

The surtax was approved by Hillsborough County voters in 2018. From 2019 to 2021, the sales tax raised nearly $570 million. It was suspended in 2021 and eventually nullified by the state Supreme Court over a legal challenge concerning ballot language from then-Hillsborough Commissioner Stacy White.

The nearly half billion dollars raised has remained in limbo ever since.

PREVIOUS: Hillsborough County outlines spending plan for $570M in transportation tax proceeds

While it is unclear how refunds may be allocated, who may be eligible, and how many taxpayers could get back, the governor says public requests would be due by Feb. 29, 2024, and refunds would be paid by April 1, 2024.

After that, DeSantis says any remaining funds could then be used by Hillsborough commissioners to pay for things like roads and bridges and their maintenance, but specifically cannot be spent on public transportation projects.

The state legislature will make their ruling on a refund and transportation spending plan during their session this spring.