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Florida Moves Forward With Natural Gas Rebate Program

In May 2013, a bill passed the Florida Legislature which developed rules for Florida’s natural gas vehicle rebate program. In June 2013, Governor Rick Scott signed HB 579, which indicates he was on board with the Legislature’s proposal. Specifically, the bill provides a rebate of $25,000 per commercial fleet vehicle for its conversion to natural gas.

The bill comes during a time which the country is trying to move away from its oil dependence and shift its consumption to a cleaner and more available fuel source. Supporters of the bill believe this step will result in the development of stations to carry the cleaner fuel line and make it more available. Companies such as Clean Energy are obviously ecstatic for the bills passing as it all but ensures greater revenue in Florida. The Natural Gas association released a comment showing its support and enthusiasm for the new legislation.

From my perspective, as a Florida sales and use tax and motor fuel tax attorney, the legislation has some tax benefits as well. Included in the bill is a provision for a state tax break on natural gas consumption that is set to begin in 2019. Further, the tax on natural gas is much lower than its diesel fuel competition from a federal tax perspective. It appears the bill will provide a rebate for fleets of three or more and placed in service after July 1.

It appears that as of August 2013, Miami Dade County will lead the charge and conduct a study which will determine if it’s feasible and worth the savings to convert their school buses and other governmental vehicles into natural gas burners.

Will the law create a tax savings for Floridians and promote a cleaner environment? Or will the tax program be similar to the Solar Rebate Program disaster which left a backlog of 8,720 applicants and $47.9 million of tax on the table? Any time there is a Florida state tax change there is an administrative burden to go along with it.

About the author: Mr. Donnini is a multi-state sales and use tax attorney and an associate in the law firm Moffa, Gainor, & Sutton, PA, based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Mr. Donnini’s primary practice is multi-state sales and use tax as well as state corporate income tax controversy. Mr. Donnini also practices in the areas of federal tax controversy, federal estate planning, Florida probate, and all other state taxes including communication service tax, cigarette & tobacco tax, motor fuel tax, and Native American taxation. Mr. Donnini is currently pursuing his LL.M. in Taxation at NYU. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact him via email or phone at 954-642-9390.

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