07 Mar FALI Officers Hit the Hill in Tallahassee So “We Don’t End Up on the Menu”
This Year’s Issue : “Attempt to Repeal the Sales Tax on PI Services”
Submitted by: Mark Lynn, FALI Legislative Chair
For the third year in a row, FALI officers went to the State Capitol in Tallahassee to talk to members of both parties in the House and Senate about issues that impact the Private Investigative profession. As the new Legislative Chair, I was honored to join them, and our lobbyists with Cynergy Consulting, on January 24, 2018 for our FALI “Hit the Hill.”
This was done in an attempt to bring awareness, educate and inspire our State Representatives to take action on behalf of our fellow Florida residents and remove the sales tax associated with hiring a Licensed Private Investigator. To be clear this action does not benefit any Licensed Private Investigators in any way, we are just the pass through for taxes collected. This will only benefit our clients that are Florida residents.
The annual “Hit the Hill” is an important tool to keep our profession in front of our elected officials by educating them on the issues that impact us. As one of the Board members told me, a few years ago they were told by a Representative, “If you aren’t at the table, you will be on the menu.” We must stay in front of them with issues so they understand our position and don’t legislate against us.
The legislative process can take several years, as was the case when FALI fought for changes in Window Tint, and increased penalties for unlicensed activity. For the last few years we have been working on repealing the tax on PI services. As we met with legislators we explained why this should be done and every one of them agreed with us.
When the state charges you with a crime they conduct their investigation, at tax payer expense, “tax free.” If you hire a private attorney to defend you, and an investigator is used in your defense, you pay tax on their investigation. So we can make leap that the tax dollars that the defendant pays to bolster his defense may end up in the hands of the very prosecutor that is prosecuting him due to the Reciprocal Discovery.
Now let’s look at it from another angle with you as the victim of a crime. For example, someone is harassing you through the use of revenge porn being posted online. Your local Police Department or Sheriff’s Office don’t have the resources to pursue the suspect and your case doesn’t meet the threshold to garner the FBI’s attention. You have to look elsewhere for help and hire a Licensed Private Investigator to assist you in finding and identifying your harasser.
Once you have done this, and the investigator provides you with the evidence, you take this back to your local law enforcement agency to press charges. They take the evidence provided, confirm the validity of what has been provided and take the appropriate action. You are not reimbursed for your efforts and on top of that, you have had to pay state sales tax on the services rendered by the licensed Private Investigator.
If you follow the trail of money, the local law enforcement agency, paid for with your tax dollars, couldn’t assist you. The federal agency with the resources to help you has too many larger cases to deal with to help. The licensed Private Investigator that did help you had to charge you sales tax for the services rendered. Hence the term that FALI has coined, “Victim Tax”.
As licensed Private Investigators we provide a service much like an attorney does yet our clients must pay tax on our services and not an attorney. To make this system even worse, our out of state clients do not get charged sales tax, neither do insurance companies, state or federal entities, only our clients who are Florida residents. As of this writing, the Legislature is still in session and we are working hard with our lobbying team to get this repeal enacted.
I look forward to working with the FALI membership on this issue and many others.
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