Florida's Biggest Corporations Avoid State Taxes, Study Says

Categories: Economy, News

Ken Teegardin via Flickr cc
The biggest companies in Florida -- including Fort Lauderdale-based AutoNation -- pay less in state taxes than the 5.5 percent rate they should. So says a new study released by the nonpartisan government watchdog group Integrity Florida. The study says that 13 of Florida's Fortune 500 corporations paid an average 2.7 percent rate in corporate taxes between 2011 and 2013.

This could be because Florida has one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the nation. But Integrity Florida says this is something the public should know about and calls for disclosure of state and local tax revenue paid in certain situations.

In all, the 13 companies made $35.1 billion in estimated corporate profits during the period while paying $945.7 million in total estimated corporate profits taxes. In contrast, taxpayers paid more than $2.4 billion to ten of Florida's 17 top Fortune 500 corporations for state government contracts between those years.

Basically, therefore, taxpayers gave the largest, most profitable companies in Florida more public money through government contracts and subsidies than those companies paid back in state taxes.

See also: Florida Has the Second Least Fair Taxes in the U.S.

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Florida Is the State With the Lowest Financial Gap by Race

Categories: Economy

Photo by Tax Credits via Flickr cc
It still helps to be a white male.
On the heels of one study saying that Florida ranks at the bottom when it comes to taxation equality comes another study that shows the Sunshine State ranks number one when it comes to financial gaps between the races.

The study, conducted by personal financial website Wallet Hub, measured the wealth gap between white and black Americans to raise awareness that the gap is reaching its highest level since 1989. And while Florida isn't anywhere near perfect when it comes to this, it certainly does better than all the other states, according to the report.

"Out of all of the states, Florida has the most consistent lowest gaps," Wallet Hub's Jill Gonzalez tells New Times. "When looking at the averages, Florida pretty much shows up on bottom ten every time, which is a good thing in this case."

See also: Florida Has the Second Least Fair Taxes in the U.S.

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Gay Wedding Gifts from GayMart

Categories: Economy

Jose Antonio Navas via Flickr cc
Craig Attebury launched his retail shop, GayMart, in 1994 in Laguna Beach, California, and opened another outlet in Wilton Manors in 1997, just as now-legendary gay bar Georgie's Alibi started getting popular. "The plaza was quite empty back then," he remembers.

In the intervening years, Wilton Manors and the surrounding area grew into a safe, family-friendly gayborhood, with no shortage of businesses with double-entendres such as the Painted Pickle, Humpy's Pizza, Bill's Filling Station, and Dairy Queen.

"We always thought GayMart was a cute name," he says, but it drew discrimination. He sells menswear and clubwear -- much of it itty-bitty and made of spandex -- but "a few suppliers would not ship to us because of the name," Attebury says. "I'd place the order and wait and wait and wait." Eventually, wholesalers would admit: "We don't want to sell to a store like that."

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Fake School in Fort Lauderdale Shut Down by State

Categories: Economy

Photo by Josh Davis via Flickr
On September 19, the Federal Trade Commission announced the takedown of a sham school operating out of Fort Lauderdale. Jefferson High School LLC shared its name with a brick-and-mortar institution in Tampa. Although the similarity made it sound legitimate, the State Attorney's Office says Jefferson was anything but: Getting a diploma or transcript simply required taking a rigged test and completing what's nominally referred to as an essay.

Florida is rife with these so-called diploma mills. In 2010, a background screening firm in the U.K. said the state had the fourth-highest number of them in the nation, 57. An article in the South Florida Business Journal that year claimed the industry was worth "more than $100 million."

The FTC found that Jefferson High School LLC, formerly known as Diversified Educational Resources LLC, raked in more than $11 million in five years. For about $200, anyone could purchase a transcript indicating proficiency in subjects such as "Russian II" and "Home Economics." All it took was a 100-question test on which applicants were allowed to guess four times for each multiple-choice question, which guaranteed a passing grade.

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ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: Boca Businessman Bringing Firetruck Filled With Ice Water to Douse People

Categories: Economy, Politics

via BMI Elite
In case you haven't heard or if you have been trapped under something heavy, the latest internet craze has been the ALS Ice Bucket challenge. But this is actually a very cool and noble thing, as internet crazes go. It's all about raising awareness and money for ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease).

The challenge was started by former Boston College baseball player Pete Frates, who has ALS. It entails someone dumping a bucket of ice water over their own heads and then challenging someone else to do it, or else donate to the ALS Association.

The challenge has been taken on by everyone from all walks of life -- from everyday folks, to celebrities, to pro athletes. And now, a local businessman has challenged his entire staff as well as other local business to take on the challenge.

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Uber Is Violating Palm Beach County's Vehicle-for-Hire Rules, Officials Say

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Uber, the app company that connects people with private car drivers at the tap of a button, is in violation of Palm Beach County's vehicle-for-hire rules, officials say. And if an Uber driver happens to get caught doing business in the county, he or she is going face big fines.

The penalties include a $500 fee and having their car impounded by the county.

Uber is basically an app with which you can request a private car with driver, then name your price. You can also rate the driver. This service has upended the traditional taxicab business in big cities where it has become popular.

But, county officials say, cabdrivers and other services that take people around town must pass inspections twice a year as well as undergo background checks and have additional insurance -- something local cabdrivers were concerned about when Uber first started making plans to expand into Palm Beach.

See also: Uber Comes to Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach

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Olivia Newton-John Selling Mansion Where Man Killed Himself

Categories: Economy

WIkimedia Commons
Got an extra $5.6 million lying around? Because Olivia Newton-John just slashed the asking price of her 6,300-square-foot waterfront mansion on Jupiter Inlet Colony by $100,000.

It's big, it's beautiful, it's right on the water, and it's cheap.

Although you might want to know that a guy committed suicide there and that Newton-John once held an exorcism on the house to rid it of the bad dead-guy mojo.

Other than that, it can totally be yours today for $5.6 mil.

See also: Possible Suicide at Olivia Newton John's Home in Jupiter Inlet Colony

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VIPwink, New Broward-Based App Company, Could Be Game-Changer for Twitter

Categories: Economy

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brian A. Stone via Wikimedia Commons
"Yo, Rihanna just WINKED a 30-second clip of her new video. Check it."
Democracy is a great idea, sure whatever, but more money can be made if you have a velvet rope to cordon off your plebes from your patricians.

Social media is about the last place we have equal footing in the world. But a new app cooked up by a team in Fort Lauderdale is seizing on man's inherent urge to divide the world into business class and coach -- and if it takes off, it could shake up your social media experience, offering pay-to-play exclusivity in what's until now been a free-market exchange of info.

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Medical Marijuana Businesses in Florida Won't Be Able to Use Banks

Categories: Economy

If medical marijuana rolls out in November, people with legal businesses related to pot will be living like they're in Breaking Bad. Until weed is legal on a federal level, it's not going to be easy for people to stick their profits from the biz into a Wells Fargo. Instead, they'll be stuck keeping tons of cash under the floorboards.

Sally Kent, a marijuana lawyer who practices in Colorado and Florida, says this legal lag poses a huge security risk.

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State Rep. Joe Gibbons, Critic of Current Florida Solar Policy, Has a Conflict of Interest on the Issue, Solar Advocates Say

Corrugate via Wikimedia Commons
As we've told you earlier, there's a big, OK Corral-style showdown going on in Florida over the future of solar energy. On one side of the debate, you have a small yet scrappy band of private businesses who rig homes with solar; on the other, Florida's powerful utilities, who over the course of the summer have blocked the rooftop industry from sitting in on upcoming hearings of Florida's Public Service Commission that will likely shape new policy.

Last month, local State Rep. Joe Gibbons also stepped into the ring, criticizing the current solar policy in a Sun Sentinel op-ed. But the solar industry is now crying foul, claiming Gibbons has a conflict of interest on the issue.

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