To create a tax break for the Miami Dolphins, Florida might eliminate a tax break for Miami’s foreign banks.
On Thursday, the state Senate is scheduled to vote on a bill allowing Florida to pay out $15 million a year in sales-tax rebates for stadium renovations, including a possible $3 million yearly subsidy for the Dolphins’ Sun Life Stadium. To pay for the new stadium dollars, the legislation would end a tax deduction reserved for international banking operations, which in Florida are clustered in the Miami area.
The deduction dates back to the 1980s and costs Florida about $14 million a year in lost tax revenue, according to a Senate analysis. The targeted deduction involves arcane rules of global finance and banking regulation, making the issue an easy one to miss amid the heated argument over whether to invest public dollars in professional sports facilities.
“Which one is sexier: Super Bowls in Miami or international banking?” said David Schwartz, president of the Miami-based Florida International Bankers Association.
In a debate about the stadium plan Wednesday between auto magnate Norman Braman and the Dolphins’ campaign leader, lawyer and community activist H.T. Smith, the banking provision didn’t come up. Instead, the two argued over whether a $350 million upgrade to Sun Life would boost the economy enough to warrant tax dollars. Voters are slated to decide the issue in a May 14 referendum.