How the Trump Republican Tax Cuts Are Helping Florida

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Posted by John Kartch on Thursday, September 24th, 2020, 3:47 PM PERMALINK

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have threatened numerous times to repeal the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on "Day One." But Florida is benefiting greatly from the tax cuts enacted by congressional Republicans and President Trump:

375,930 Florida households are no longer stuck paying the much-loathed individual mandate tax, thanks to the TCJA's elimination of this tax. 78% of Florida households hit with this tax made less than $50,000 per year. Be warned, Joe Biden wants to bring this tax back from the dead, one of the many reasons Biden can't be trusted on taxes.

1,285,360 Florida households are benefiting from the TCJA’s doubling of the child tax credit.

Every income group in every Florida congressional district received a tax cut. Nationwide, a typical family of four received a $2,000 annual tax cut and a single parent with one child received a $1,300 annual tax cut.

7,517,550 Florida households are benefiting from the TCJA’s doubling of the standard deduction. Thanks to the tax cuts, nine out of ten households take the standard deduction which provides tax relief and simplifies the tax filing process.

Thanks to the tax cuts, Florida businesses of all sizes are hiring, expanding, raising pay and increasing employee benefits:

Magellan Transport Logistics (Jacksonville, Florida) - Expanding facility operations, hiring more employees:

“Just last month, Mr. Speaker, I toured Magellan Transport Logistics, a service-disabled, veteran-owned logistics company in my hometown of Jacksonville, Florida. They are adding at least 100 new jobs in the next 5 years and were able to acquire a new 47,000- square-foot facility. During the tour of the facility, we were told by the company’s CEO that this expansion is a direct result of the tax cuts that the business received from the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act. This is just one example of the differences that these cuts are making to improve the way of life for countless Americans in Florida and across the Nation. I have heard from many small businesses throughout my district who are thriving unlike never before because of these landmark reforms.” - May 17, 2018, Rep. John Rutherford statement on U.S. House Floor

Florida Concrete Unlimited (Miami, Florida) – Pay raises for all employees and higher year-end bonuses due to tax reform:

“My father and I decided, once this tax bill passed, the first thing that we should do is reinvest in the company. So we have extra cash available to give back to the employees instantly before we even felt the effects of the tax bill, we increased the bonuses for the year-end. So everybody got a little bit more in their paycheck at the end of the year for their Christmas bonus, about 20 percent more. And everybody got a raise based on tax reform.” – Feb. 2018 statement by President and COO Jason Goff

Biscayne Bay Craft Brewery (Miami, Florida) – Hiring new employees and purchasing new equipment:

Consider the story of Jose Mallea, owner of Biscayne Bay Craft Brewery, who participated in President Trump's event. The tax cuts have allowed him to purchase $100,000 more in equipment and hire two new employees. – April 29, 2018 Tallahassee Democrat article excerpt

AutoNation Inc. (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) – The company is providing a new double-match for employee 401(k) accounts. Also providing a newly expanded program for employees who are diagnosed with cancer, or have a spouse/dependent who is diagnosed:

The Trump administration's tax reform is expected to boost AutoNation Inc.'s net income by millions of dollars, so the company plans to invest the profits in expanded programs for its employees.

Fort Lauderdale-based AutoNation, the nation's largest automotive retailer (NYSE: AN), on Tuesday said the new tax cuts will benefit the company's bottom line by $41 million in the current fiscal quarter. The company expects the annual benefit from the reform bill to be $75 million to $100 million. Tax reform slashed the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent.

With the savings, AutoNation aims to double the match for its 401(k) plan. For its deferred compensation plan, the company would double its match of up to 100 percent of the first $5,500 contributed. AutoNation employees and family members recently diagnosed with cancer would be assisted by a newly launched program that covers the employee, a spouse or eligible dependents with no exam required. The assistance includes up to $5,000 paid to the employee after a cancer diagnosis, with no limitations on how the money is spent.

"We are excited about the pro-growth environment for business in the U.S., which includes the recently signed tax reform bill," AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson said. "As a U.S.-based company, our employees, customers and shareholders will benefit greatly from a reduction in our corporate tax rates." – Jan. 16, 2018, South Florida Business Journal.

Sergio's Cuban Cafe (Miami, Florida) – The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act allowed the business to create new jobs and benefits:

Mr. Rodriguez. It's been amazing. We were-I'm a son of Cuban immigrants that fled Cuba in the early 1960s. And thanks to this country, here we are. We-thanks to the strong economy and the tax cuts, our employees have-are benefiting from higher wages, bonuses that they weren't able to receive before; benefits that they weren't able to receive before.

We, as a company, are-have currently two restaurants out of the 25. We're currently building three more. But thanks to the tax cuts, that expansion is going to accelerate, and hopefully, soon, we'll be able to create an extra 500 jobs thanks to all. – April 15. 2019, roundtable in Burnsville, Minnesota.

Our Town America (Clearwater, Florida) – Raise wages, hire new employees, and purchase new equipment:

There's no small business owner I talk to who isn't thankful to be able to protect one-fifth of his or her earnings from taxes. For some marginal small businesses, it will make the difference between staying in business and closing.

My business is no different. We're using our tax cut savings to raise wages, hire new staff, and add even more features and equipment to our brand new headquarters — a 44,000 square foot office building in Clearwater. – April 29, 2018, Tallahassee Democrat article excerpt

St. Augustine Distillery (St. Augustine, Florida) - The distillery used savings from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to invest in new equipment.

With a steadily increasing demand for their products and a significant tax cut bolstering their bottom line, the St. Augustine Distillery recently expanded its production capability by purchasing a variety of new distillation equipment. 

For the St. Augustine Distillery, which produces between 40,000 and 45,000 gallons a year, the tax cut meant a savings of approximately $200,000 a year. With a sudden boost to their revenue, the distillery decided to reinvest in their business by purchasing distilling equipment such as three additional incremental fermentation tanks and a new, 3,000-gallon mixing tank, a new mill and an auger system for their mash tank.

“This is a very capital-intensive industry,” said Mike Diaz, co-founder and CFO of St. Augustine Distillery. “The only way to expand your business is to invest in your equipment.” -- October 31, 2019 Jackson Business Journal

Jones Auto & Towing (Riverview, Florida) – the company, which provides 24-hour wrecker service, roadside assistance, emergency towing, and fuel delivery etc. will put two additional trucks into service, which will add two more full time jobs:

“The tax cuts are putting two more tow trucks on the road for my business. This will add two more full time job openings that will help two more families. And it will put a little more money in the bank for my family. My wife is a registered nurse and has a 401k which is doing better this last year than in the previous 13 years!!

Thanks to President Trump!!!

Thankfully I will be taken delivery of my new trucks in two weeks and hitting the road! MAGA!” – Guy Jones, Jones Auto & Towing

Joseph’s Lite Cookies (Sebastian, Florida) – $3,000 - $4,200 salary increases, new computer systems, new product packaging:

"As the president and CEO of Joseph’s Lite Cookies in Florida, I run a family-owned, sugar-free cookie business. We bake more than 12 million sugar-free cookies a day, in addition to supplying other diabetic-friendly products.

I employ numerous workers who stand to directly benefit from the Republican tax overhaul. Why? Because lower rates and increased deductions leave me with more resources to expand business operations and reward hardworking staffers.

Because of the tax bill, I’m purchasing new computer systems and creating new product packaging for international expansion. More importantly, I’m giving raises to four key employees — half of our workforce — which range from just over $3,000 to nearly $4,200. My top employees have earned greater financial security, and the Republican tax package made it a reality for them.

Because of President Trump’s commitment to lowering rates and increasing deductions, we are now experiencing the largest tax-induced investment revolution ever. Never before have we seen such a frenzy of pay hikes, 401(k) increases, and bonuses due to a single piece of legislation. Democrats scoff at their own peril. – Feb. 5 2018, Washington Examiner news article excerpt

Harris Corporation (Melbourne, Florida) -- Each of the 17,000 non-executive employees will receive 10 shares of common stock which will vest over two years. 10 shares of stock is currently worth $1,470; an additional $300 million contribution to employee pension fund; $20 million in innovation investments:

Harris Corporation (NYSE:HRS) today announced that, as a result of the passage of the tax reform bill, the company anticipates making an additional contribution to its employee pension fund, increasing its investment in research and development, and providing a one-time stock grant to all of its non-executive employees. The actions are expected to occur within the company’s fiscal 2018.

To increase current and former employee retirement stability, Harris anticipates contributing an additional $300 million into the company’s employee pension fund.

The company also will invest an incremental $20 million in technologies to accelerate innovation and affordability initiatives for its customers. This investment in research and development will leverage and enhance the company’s strong engineering talent, strengthen Harris’ position and help it capture new market opportunities in areas such as small satellites, software defined electronic warfare systems, open systems avionics, robotics and air traffic management solutions.

In addition, the company will grant each of its approximately 17,000 non-executive employees 10 shares of Harris common stock that will vest over two years. The grants have a current market value of about $1,470 each, or approximately $24 million in total.

“We are pleased to share the benefits of our strong performance and the recent tax reform legislation with our employees,” said William M. Brown, chairman, president and chief executive officer. “This represents an investment in Harris’ greatest asset and differentiator – our talented employees. Coupled with our innovation and technology investment, we are using this opportunity to further strengthen the company and position Harris for future success.” -- Jan. 30, 2018 Harris Corporation press release

Primrose School of South Tampa (Tampa, Florida) – Salary increases; playground upgrades; educational hardware and software investments; upgraded classroom flooring:

“Primrose School of South Tampa joined the ranks of other companies in giving back to our employees as a direct result of the tax reform.  We are an educational preschool providing a premier early education and child care experience for children and families in the Tampa Bay area.  Located in Tampa, Florida, we employ 85 teachers and management staff.   Thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by the Republican Congress and signed into law by President Trump, each of our full-time staff members will receive a $1,040 salary increase and our part-time employees will receive one-half of that amount.  We will invest over $75,000 in turf to improve our playgrounds for our children. We purchased 50 new Apple iPads and software for classroom/student use, and we are investing in upgraded classroom flooring. Our total infrastructure investment in our beautiful school is over $150,000 thanks to President Trump and the Republican Congress!  This would not have been possible but for the tax reform and our sincerest thanks go to President Trump and to Congress for passing this legislation. President Donald Trump is doing a great job and we appreciate the hard work on his aggressive agenda.” – Jana Radtke, Franchise Owner, Primrose School of South Tampa

Estate Investment Group (Miami, Florida) -- The company is building an apartment complex in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Estate Investment Group has broken ground on the Soleste Bay Village apartments in Palmetto Bay after obtaining a $34 million construction loan.

Soleste Bay Village is located in Palmetto Bay’s new Downtown Urban Village District, which encouraged mixed-use development. It’s also in a newly designated federal Opportunity Zone, where investors have the benefit of taking tax deferrals.

“While the Village of Palmetto Bay has been growing and evolving at a steady rate over the last couple of years, the levels of interest from developers, investors and potential residents are really starting to pick up,” said Robert Suris, founder and principal of EIG. “The entire area is on the cusp of some major activity and we’re going to be ready.”

The five-story project was designed by Caymares Martin Architectural and Engineering Design. The majority of the retail space would be part of live/work apartment units. There would also be a 297-space parking garage.

Amenities would include a pool deck on the third floor, a gym, a party room, a dog park and a playground. --October 24, 2018 South Florida Business Journal article

Fore Property (Kissimmee, Florida) -- The company is building a 384-unit apartment building that is located in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Fore Property secured a $49.6-million loan to develop 19 South, a 384-unit apartment community located in a qualified opportunity zone in Kissimmee, FL. BBVA provided the loan for the development of the project, which is a joint venture between Fore Property and Canyon Partners Real Estate LLC.

The LEED-designed, wood-framed development will consist of four, four-story residential buildings, featuring a mix of studio, one, two and three-bedroom floor plans. The residences will offer such contemporary features as chef-inspired gourmet kitchens, quartz countertops, energy-efficient stainless-steel appliances, walk-in closets,  and hardwood-style flooring.

19 South offers convenient access to the Osceola Parkway, Florida Turnpike, and John Young Parkway, as well as downtown Kissimmee, Lake Nona Medical City, Walt Disney World Resort and Orlando International Airport. -- April 3, 2020 Connect Media article

JWV Real Estate (Jacksonville, Florida) -- The company announced that they are building shipping container apartments in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Plans for Jacksonville-based JWB Real Estate Capital's shipping container apartments are moving forward, with revised plans submitted Sep. 20.

The Ashley Street Container Lofts will consist of 18 apartment units totaling 2,280 square feet constructed from shipping containers, according to the plans prepared by Kimley Horn. Plans for the project on 0.13 acres at 412 East Ashley Street were first submitted in June.

The site is in the Cathedral District and is located in an opportunity zone, meaning it is eligible to serve as a tax shelter for capital gains. JWB purchased the property in February through an affiliate for $52,500. -- September 23, 2019 Jacksonville Business Journal article

Santa Fe College (Gainesville, Florida) -- The college is expanding their Center for Innovation and Economic Development which is located in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Santa Fe College announced two weeks ago that it had received a $4.8 million federal grant to aid in the rebuild and expansion of its Center for Innovation and Economic Development (CIED) at the Blount Center.

About $1.2 million in state funding will also go toward the project, which, according to a news release, will "support the development and growth of new business sectors by rebuilding and expanding the College Center for Innovation and Economic Development."

"How this grant can help Santa Fe is how we can help our community," said Kathryn Lehman, director of grants and projects. "Because that's really the purpose of the college."

The CIED's entrepreneur incubator has helped 150 new companies get off the ground, including local companies Student Maid and Altavian, according to Lehman. She estimates the economic impact on the community to be in the millions.

College officials hope to have the facility completed and open by the spring of 2021, according to Liam McClay, assistant to the president for innovation and governmental affairs.

It will also be located in a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Opportunity Zone. According to the IRS, an Opportunity Zone is an "economically-distressed community where new investments, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment."

"By sending grant funds to a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Opportunity Zone, the investment in rebuilding and expanding Santa Fe College's CIED facility will not only grow new business sectors including IT, technology and other knowledge-based industries, but also attract additional investment with special tax incentives," said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.

The federal portion of the grant comes from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration. -- June 5, 2019 Gainesville Sun article

TSG Group and Linéaire Group (Miami, Florida) -- The companies are developing an apartment tower that will include retail space located in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

TSG Group and Linéaire Group, both based in Miami, paid $5.9 million for the 30,000-square-foot, six-lot vacant property at 1765 N. Miami Ave. on March 14.

They plan to develop an 18-to 24-story apartment tower with ground-floor retail. Construction is set to start in early 2020 and finish in early 2022.

The property northeast of Miami Avenue and 17th Street is in an opportunity zone, one of many areas across the U.S. poised to get an influx of investment under a change in federal law.

The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act created the opportunity zone concept, allowing investors to defer taxes on their capital gains from commercial ventures and put the gains into opportunity zone developments. -- April 3, 2019 Palm Beach Daily Business Review article

Affiliated Development LLC (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) -- The company is building an apartment complex located within an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Construction started on The Six13 apartment building in Fort Lauderdale after the developer secured $19.3 million in project financing.

Affiliated Development LLC, a Fort Lauderdale-based multifamily developer, obtained the loan from City National Bank on April 4 for the six-story development, which will have 142 one and two bedroom units.

The Six13, named for its location at 613 NW Third Ave. in the Progresso Village neighborhood, will have a 197-space garage and 5,991 square feet of ground-floor commercial space, including a restaurant.

Like other apartment projects rising in South Florida urban cores, it will have out-of-the-box amenities such as a gated dog park, a residents only bike-share program, co-working space and a fourth-floor pool with cabanas.

But unlike other new apartment projects, it won't come with the sometimes cost-prohibitive rents as Affiliated has vowed Thee Six13 will be more attainable.

The planned rents are good news for residents who work in Fort Lauderdale's urban core but can't afford to live there, Burns said.

"We wanted to provide them an opportunity to live close to where they work, close to where they play," he said.

The project also is in an opportunity zone, a state-designated distressed areas where investors can grab tax advantages.

While the opportunity zone doesn't necessarily translate to lower rents, it was how the developer secured the remaining $14 million in financing.

The so-called OZ program created by the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 allows investors to defer paying taxes on the capital gains they invest in opportunity zones, while areas that could use the help get the financial boost.

The federal program dictates that investors place their capital gains in a qualified opportunity zone fund. -- April 17, 2019 Palm Beach Daily Business Review article

Seaward Landing (Marathon, Florida) -- The company announced they are building rental units that will be located in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

 Index Investment Group announces its newest development, Seaward Landing coming to construction completion in June 2020. The community consists of 45 multifamily workforce housing rental units situated on the Atlantic Ocean. The property is located at 8700 Overseas Highway in the heart of the Florida Keys, Marathon. The project has received a lot of community interest and is projected to obtain a certificate of occupancy in June and commence pre-leasing in May.

Index acquired the property in late 2016 and held the property until it commenced construction of the project in late 2018. Located in an Certified Opportunity Zone on a 3-acre site in the heart of Marathon, adjacent to the Marathon International Airport, on US Highway 1 is well situated for locals living and working in the Keys. The development features a leasing office, 45 multifamily units made up of one, two and three-bedroom units with amenities including a dog park and play area, all within walking distance of the Atlantic Ocean. -- May 5, 2020 Index Investment Group press release

EJF Capital LLC and Chance Partners LLC (Jacksonville, Florida) -- The company announced they are building an apartment complex in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

EJF Capital LLC (“EJF”) and Chance Partners LLC (“Chance Partners”) today announced the acquisition of a 284-unit multifamily housing community under development in the San Marco neighborhood of Jacksonville, FL. The project, known as San Marco Promenade (the “Project”), is expected to be complete in the third quarter of 2020 in an area certified as an “Opportunity Zone” under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (“TCJA”). The TCJA offers investors tax benefits to invest into Opportunity Zones with the aim of spurring economic growth in lower income areas. -- April 29, 2020 EJF Capital LLC and Chance Partners LLC press release

BTI Partners (Hollywood, Florida) -- The firm is building an apartment building that is located in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

The 25-story Parc Place was originally approved for Hollywood-based MG3 Developer Group in October 2018. The 3.24-acre site is now under contract to Fort Lauderdale-based BTI Partners, led by veteran commercial developer Noah Breakstone.

The project would rise at 1727-1745 Van Buren St., 1700-1716 Harrison St., and 1740-1760 South Young Circle. It would replace the "Hollywood Bread" building, an 11-story structure that has been shuttered for years.

The project is in an Opportunity Zone, which could create significant tax savings for the developer. -- October 9, 2019 South Florida Business Journal article

Taplin Development Corp. (Hallandale Beach, Florida) -- The company is building 320 apartment units, a 120 key hotel, and retail stores in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

A high-rise apartment and hotel project is planned for an Opportunity Zone in Hallandale Beach.

Taplin Development Corp., led by Jack Taplin, received approval from the city to build 320 apartments and a 120-key hotel with a retail component across from Gulfstream Park, according to a release. The project will be called the Falls at Gulfstream and the property will consist of a 23-story building at 900 South Federal Highway.

The Class A property will have a rooftop bar overlooking the finish line at Gulfstream Park. The property is also adjacent to the Village at Gulfstream Park, an upscale shopping center.

The federal Opportunity Zone program allows developers and investors to receive a tax incentive if they invest in one of the more than 8,700 zones throughout the country. The program was designed to encourage investment in low-income and distressed areas, but has come under scrutiny as a tax break for wealthy developers.

“We are currently seeking Opportunity Zone joint venture equity to meet the end of the year zone deadline,” Taplin said in a statement. -- November 13, 2019 The Real Deal article

Don Ramon Restaurant (West Palm Beach Florida) -- The Cuban restaurant gave pay raises and bonuses to employees and purchased new coffee machines and refrigerators in order to renovate and expand:

As the owner of Don Ramon Restaurant in West Palm Beach, I know the positive impact of small business better than most.

Because of the recently passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, we will pay lower taxes and qualify for higher deductions, leaving Don Ramon in a better position than ever before. We plan to open a takeout window and set up a customer bar, which would generate up to eight new jobs. We will also install new refrigerators and coffee machines, in addition to making much-needed renovations to better serve our customers.

Perhaps most important, all of our key employees received generous bonuses in December, and they will also see pay increases in the coming weeks. We take great pride in rewarding our workers, and the new tax code makes it much easier to do so. -- Feb. 3, 2018 Palm Beach Post op-ed excerpt

Orb Development (Boca Raton, Florida) -- The company announced they will be creating a mixed-use building that will house 131 apartments in addition to retail space, located in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Locally-based Orb Development and joint venture partner Pebb Capital of Boca Raton has acquired a 0.25-acre Qualified Opportunity Zone site here and plans to build a mixed-use project there.

The property is located at 155 Chestnut St. in the Innovation District, previously known as the Jewelry District. The partnership plans to construct a modular 110,000-square-foot, Class A, mixed-use development that will feature 131 multifamily units and approximately 8,600 square feet of retail space at the quarter-acre site. -- September 20, 2019 Palm Beach Business Review article

Columbia Ventures LLC (Jacksonville, Florida) -- The company is converting a warehouse into 200 affordable apartment units in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

LISC Real Estate and Lending Officer Chuck Shealy told the Business Journal on March 12 that the developers planned a project costing around $50 million that would include 200 apartment units and 30,000 square feet of "commercial creative/maker space." Apartments would rent at affordable to workforce rates, tiers pegged to the area's median income.
 
LISC, which focuses on projects that produce affordable housing, often provides bridge loans and other flexible lending options to projects in the downtown area.
 
"A good portion of the building was occupied by artists, photographers, wood workers – craftsmen of those types," said Shealy. "They want to keep that element in the project."
 
The developers expect to start construction in June, Shealy said. Columbia Ventures Managing Partner Dillon Baynes did not return a call for comment Monday.
 
Columbia's secured funding, which, among other items, includes money from LISC and the tax shelter benefits of an opportunity zone, is about $4.5 million short of the project's budget, Shealy said. The company plans to ask the city for that sum, he said. -- March 30, 2020 Jacksonville Business Journal article

Home 2/Tru by Hilton (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) -- Construction of new hotel in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

As investors rushed to invest in Opportunity Zones before the end of the year, Driftwood Acquisitions & Development and Merrimac Ventures locked in their first deal in the federal tax program.

The Coral Gables-based investment firm Driftwood and Fort Lauderdale-based Merrimac closed a deal through an Opportunity Zone fund by raising $24 million to develop a 218-key dual-branded hotel. The Home 2/Tru by Hilton will be built at 315-333 Northwest 1st Avenue in Fort Lauderdale’s Flagler Village. The deal closed right before the end of the year, allowing investors to take advantage of the largest possible tax benefit in the Opportunity Zones program.

The deal also comes on the heels of the long awaited final regulations released by the U.S. Treasury and the IRS late last month, which experts say gives real estate investors the clarity to start putting money into Opportunity Zone real estate projects.

Jorge L. Gomez-Moller, Driftwood’s general counsel, said investment in the company’s Opportunity Zone fund has come from retail investors as well as wealthy family offices looking to take advantage of lucrative cash breaks. The project is expected to be completed within the first quarter of 2020.

The Flagler Village project is one of the few Opportunity Zone projects in South Florida in which investors will begin seeing cash flow in the next few months. Many other Opportunity Zone projects are in pre-development stages, according to Gomez-Moller.

Tucked into President Trump’s 2017 tax legislation, the Opportunity Zones initiative’s goal is to encourage private investment in distressed communities by allowing investors and real estate developers to defer or forgo paying capital gains taxes if they invest in one of the more than 8,700 zones throughout the country. -- January 3, 2020 The Real Deal article

Benada Aluminum Products LLC. (Sanford, Florida) - Increased production capacity:

“It’s given us relief. We’re able to get some margins back,” said Jim Piperato, president of Benada Aluminum LLC, a Florida-based producer of aluminum framing for patio and pool enclosures.

Mr. Piperato said the company, owned by private equity firms Big Shoulders Capital and ABGB Capital, recently increased production capacity by 50% to expand into the door and window frame market.

“Our business has been extremely strong.” he said. “Most of the customers I’ve spoken to say there’s no end in sight.” - July 17, 2018, Wall Street Journal article excerpt

Canyon Partners Real Estate LLC and Fore Property (Orlando, Florida) -- The real estate company is building a new apartment community in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: 

Canyon Partners Real Estate LLC and Fore Property have formed a joint venture to develop 19 South, a 384-unit apartment community here. Canyon invested $29.8 million of equity into this project, which is located within a qualified opportunity zone. Construction is slated to begin in March 2020 and achieve completion by May 2022.

A spokesperson for Fore tells GlobeSt.com that 19 South is a 4-story, wood-framed development that is LEED-designed and will feature two resort-style courtyard pools, a modern arcade and gaming area, a 24-hour fitness center, an outdoor park area, as well as a fitness trail. -- January 23, 2020 GlobeSt.Com article

Old Sistrunk Distillery (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) -- Rapper Flo Rida is opening a vodka distillery in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

It’s only fitting for rapper Flo Rida to build his new vodka distillery in Florida.

The 40-year-old multiplatinum artist is going beyond the music charts as the co-owner and brand ambassador of Old Sistrunk Distillery, according to a Tuesday report from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. The 13,000-square-foot venue is set to open either in late 2020 or early 2021 in one of Fort Lauderdale’s minority neighborhoods.

Old Sistrunk Distillery will pour Victor George Vodka, a brand co-owned by music execturned entrepreneur Victor G. Harvey. Flo Rida will serve as an equity partner and brand ambassador for the company, which is hyper-focused on distilling the popular Russian spirit.

“I have known Mr. Harvey for years and I’ve seen his grind, hard work and enthusiasm in building his brand,” Flo Rida said in a press statement. He added that he looks forward to “developing new products through the construction of a distillery in historic Sistrunk and empowering the community.”

In November, Harvey paid $75,000 for a 6,306-square-foot lot in Sistrunk, according to real estate news company The Real Deal. The property is considered an “Opportunity Zone,” which means any development could qualify for potential tax benefits such as deferred federal taxes on capital gains until 2026 because the federal government views investment in low-income areas as a positive.

“Opportunity zones are an economic development tool—that is, they are designed to spur economic development and job creation in distressed communities,” the IRS has written on the matter.

Harvey appears to be in agreement with the economic decision. Sistrunk is Fort Lauderdale’s oldest African American community and the median income in the very area the distillery is being built is $36,372, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, which is significantly less than Fort Lauderdale’s overall median income of $55,269.

“What we are building in the Sistrunk community is exactly what the area needs," Harvey said in a press release. "A place to dine, drink, and socialize without having to leave the area.”

The three-story distillery will be located at 1012 Sistrunk Blvd. and will include a tasting room, restaurant, lounge, cigar and wine bar. -- January 23, 2020 Yahoo Finance article

EJF Capital and Chance Partners (Jacksonville, Florida) -- Announced they are building a new housing community which will create a significant amount of construction jobs as well as property management positions. 

EJF Capital LLC (“EJF”) and Chance Partners (“Chance”) today announced the development of a two-building, 486-unit multifamily housing community in the historic San Marco neighborhood of Jacksonville, FL. The project, known as San Marco Crossing (the “Project”), is being developed on nearly nine acres consisting of three parcels in an area certified as an “Opportunity Zone” under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (“TCJA”). The TCJA offers investors attractive tax benefits to invest into Opportunity Zones to create economic growth in lower income areas. The approximately $86 million project expects to break ground in Q3 2019 and plans to open in Q4 2020. Ameris Bank, with participation from Stifel Bank, is providing $51 million of construction financing.

“EJF continues to identify and execute on attractive Opportunity Zone investments across the U.S. and bring our financial resources and real estate operating expertise to communities that need it most,” said EJF Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, Neal Wilson. “We are excited to partner with Chance Partners on San Marco Crossing, which will bring high-quality multifamily units to this growing area and create a significant number of construction jobs as well as permanent property management positions. We believe small businesses in San Marco will also benefit from the added economic vitality that results from the spending power of about 700 expected new residents.” -- June 28, 2019 Business Wire

Darden Restaurants (Orlando, Florida) - workforce investments:

Olive Garden owner Darden Restaurants on Monday said it would reinvest $20 million in tax savings this year back into its workforce.
 

The Orlando, Fla.-based casual-dining operator said that tax reform would lower its effective tax rate by 600 basis points in its current fiscal year, due to changes made under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in December.

--

“One of the best investments we can make is in our people,” Darden CEO Gene Lee said in a statement. “This investment will strengthen one of our most important competitive advantages.” - March 15, 2019 Restaurant Business Online article excerpts

 

Massage Envy (locations across Florida) - Increased worker pay and facilities remodeling:

“I’m a manager and a massage therapist at Massage Envy. My employers own seven of Massage Envys. So for me I guess what they’ve done is what’s affected me most. They’ve really reinvested into the company. We’ve got a total overhaul remodel of everything top to bottom, front to back and that’s been great for business. They have given every single person in our clinic an increase in compensation and just have changed the quality of our lives greatly. I mean in the last three years I’ve doubled my salary with what they’ve been able to do and so personally for me how that translates into my life is that you know both of my kids have their own cars so they can drive and I don’t have to share a car with them. I’m able to finish an internship that I’ve been doing in mental health counseling. I had finished my academic requirements a year ago and just couldn’t take off work to finish the internship. I’m in it and I’ll be done in October and I’m not losing any money and not losing any time with my children or anything like that. So it’s been pretty awesome for me. I appreciate it a lot. I know my employers do as well.” - April 17, 2018 Tax Talk Roundtable, Kasey Moore, Manager at Massage Envy

Arthrex Inc. (North Naples, Florida) – Pay raises and $1,000 bonuses:

The company has given all of its U.S. employees either a $1 an hour pay increase or a one-time bonus of $1,000.

In the news release, Schmieding attributed the decision to boost pay for U.S. workers in part to the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which lowered the federal corporate income tax rate and to the deferral of the medical device tax for the next two years nationwide. -- April 27, 2018 Naples Daily News article excerpt

Landmark Reporting, Inc.  (Orlando, Florida) — $500 bonus checks for all three employees:

“I own a small business in Orlando, Florida with three employees. It is a business that I DID BUILD and have owned and operated for over 35 years. After I saw the increase in take-home pay in all of our paychecks after President Trump’s tax cut implementation, I wrote bonus checks of $500 each to my employees. On the Memo line, it’s labeled 'President Trump Tax Cut Bonus.’ — Candy Morgan, owner, Landmark Reporting, Inc.

Crowley Maritime Corporation (Jacksonville, Florida) - Employee bonuses:

Hill, a Crowley employee for more than 24 years, extolled real-world benefits of the tax cuts, including helping her pay for her sons’ college expenses.

Crowley Maritime “used its benefit from tax reform to pay employees bonuses,” Hill said.

“Crowley Maritime is a fantastic company,” she added. “I’ve been there 24 years. I’m very honored to work for such a great company and for the company to benefit from such a great tax opportunity, which they were able to give back to the employees.” - May 29, 2018, Florida Politics article excerpt

Liberty Landscape Supply (Jacksonville, Florida) - Expanding operations and services offered to customers, hiring a new employee:

Mike Zaffaroni calls the newest piece of equipment at his landscaping company in Jacksonville, Florida, his “Tax Cut Truck.”

He had long wanted to expand the services he offers to his customers and says the tax cuts President Donald J. Trump signed into law six months ago were the motivation he needed to buy the $80,000 truck and forklift.

“Without the tax cuts, we’re not so sure it would have been the right move for us financially,” he said.

Under the new tax law, Mr. Zaffaroni will be able to write off the entire cost of the purchase this year. Along with the lower tax rates and other benefits of the law, he says his accountant estimates he’ll save 7 percent to 10 percent on his taxes this year. That’s a big saving for a small company like his, and it’s money he’ll reinvest in his business.

“We’re going to be able to expand, we’re going to add a product line, we’ll be able to deliver more materials than we were able to before,” Mr. Zaffaroni said. “We’ve actually already hired another driver, so that also adds another job.”

I toured Mr. Zaffaroni’s company, Liberty Landscape Supply, soon after he was named Florida’s National Small Business Person of the Year, and just days after the truck was delivered.

“It makes it very real,” he told me. “A lot of America doesn’t really understand the implication these tax cuts have on each individual small business.” - June 29, 2018, White House article excerpt

 

Cogent Building Group -- the firm builds homes in Santa Rosa Beach, and gave $2,000 bonuses for all four employees.

Tampa Electric (Tampa, Florida) – The utility is passing along tax reform savings to customers:

Tampa Electric bills won’t rise to pay for Hurricane Irma restoration costs, thanks to new tax savings. The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) unanimously approved the measure today.

Because of recent changes made to the federal tax law, customers will directly benefit. What Tampa Electric would have paid in corporate income taxes will instead be used to cover the cost of restoring power after Hurricane Irma and several other earlier named storms. Additionally, Tampa Electric bills will reflect the ongoing benefits from tax reform starting in 2019. – March 1, 2018, Tampa Electric Press Release

Duke Energy Florida (St. Petersburg, Florida) – the utility is passing along tax savings to customers:

Duke Energy Florida today announced that customers will directly benefit from the new federal tax law and avoid a rate increase for power restoration costs associated with the company's response to last September's Hurricane Irma.

Instead of increasing customer rates, the company plans to apply federal tax reform savings toward those storm costs.

On Dec. 28, 2017, the company had filed for recovery of $513 million – $381 million for power restoration costs and $132 million to replenish the storm reserve fund. Residential customers would have seen an increase of $5.20 per 1,000 kWh of electricity on a typical monthly bill over a three-year recovery period – an average of $187.20. Commercial and industrial customers were expected to see an increase of approximately 2.5 to 6.6 percent, though bills would have varied depending on a number of factors.

Like many companies, Duke Energy has been working to analyze the benefits of tax reform.

"We are pleased that this solution will prevent a rate increase for our customers," said Harry Sideris, Duke Energy Florida state president. "Hurricane Irma was the worst storm to ever hit Duke Energy Florida and impacted many lives. Redirecting the tax reform savings against the storm costs ensures that our customers will reap the benefits of this new law." -- Jan. 24, 2018 Duke Energy Florida press release

T.J. Maxx91 stores in Florida – tax reform bonuses, retirement plan contributions, parental leave, enhanced vacation benefits, and charitable donations:

The 2017 Tax Act benefited the Company in the fourth quarter and full year Fiscal 2018. The Company expects to continue to benefit from the 2017 Tax Act going forward, primarily due to the lower U.S. corporate income tax rate. As a result of the estimated cash benefit related to the 2017 Tax Act, the Company is taking the following actions:

Associates

  • A one-time, discretionary bonus to eligible, non-bonus-plan Associates, globally

  • An incremental contribution to the Company’s defined contribution retirement plans for eligible Associates in the U.S. and internationally

  • Instituting paid parental leave for eligible Associates in the U.S.

  • Enhancing vacation benefits for certain U.S. Associates

Communities

Made meaningful contributions to TJX’s charitable foundations around the world to further support TJX’s charitable giving. – Feb. 28, 2018 The TJX Companies Inc. press release excerpt

Ryder (Headquartered in Miami, multiple retail locations in Florida) – Tax reform bonuses for all non-incentive bonus eligible employees, totaling $23 million:

In connection with the anticipated benefit of the Tax Act, the Company awarded a one-time cash bonus, estimated to be approximately $23 million or $0.27 per diluted share, to all non-incentive bonus eligible employees of the Company employed on December 31, 2017. The bonus will be paid to eligible employees in February 2018. -- Jan. 29, 2018 Ryder System, Inc. filing

RGF Environmental Group, Inc. (Riviera Beach, Florida) -- $1,000 bonuses:

“We, as a privately held manufacturing firm in Riviera Beach, Florida, will benefit greatly from the Tax Reform act recently passed. Because of this savings, we have given all our employees a $1,000 Bonus (This is in addition to their 2017 year-end bonuses. – Sharon B. Rinehimer, Executive Vice President/General Counsel, RGF Environmental Group, Inc.

Spellex Corporation (Tampa, Florida) -- $1,000 bonuses for all 26 full-time employees:

"I'm the founder and CEO of Spellex Corporation located in Tampa, FL. We're a software development company which I founded in 1988. This is the first time I've done anything like this. I'm hoping there are thousands of companies like mine who gave their employees $1,000 bonuses to show our support for the new tax plan which will ultimately help the middle class." -- Sheldon Wolf, CEO, Spellex Corporation

The Flood Insurance Agency (Gainesville, Florida) -- $1,000 bonuses for 17 full time employees:

“Small businesses represent almost 75% of all jobs in the USA and the new tax laws benefit many those businesses. Their allocation of additional after tax income could be what causes a wave to turn into a tsunami of economic growth that moves the USA to a destiny defined by everyone’s hopes and dreams. 

My hope is that our insurance industry leads the way with both large public insurance corporations and small insurance agencies announcing their plans for leveraging their tax savings toward a bright American future. My hope is that news media does their part by reporting every announcement building awareness of the growing tsunami. 

I want our company to participate in that tsunami. I want our employees to help define that destiny. Our company is a mid-size insurance MGA with approximately $15 million of revenue. On Tuesday December 26th we announced a $1000 bonus for all our full time employees.” – CEO Evan Hecht

CenterState Bank (Davenport, Florida) – $1,000 bonuses to non-officer employees:

CenterState also finds itself competing more with major regional banks for customers and employees, so — following in the footsteps of other leading financial institutions — it is giving $1,000 bonuses to its non-officer employees as a result of the new tax law. About 700 workers, or 60 percent of the company’s employees as of Dec. 31, will receive the bonus, CenterState said in a Jan. 19 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. – Jan. 19 Tampa Bay Business Journal article excerpt

AT&T -- $1,000 bonuses to 13,331 Florida employees; Nationwide, $1 billion increase in capital expenditures.

Fleet Advantage (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) – New options for customers thanks to immediate business expensing in the tax bill:

The changes to the tax law for 2018 as a result of Tax Cuts and Job Act of 2017 have led more fleets to consider vehicle leasing, and many of those are smaller fleets and owner-operators who may have only sought out equipment on the used market previously.

James C. Griffin Jr., COO & CTO of Fleet Advantage, said the company has launched new flexible leasing programs in response to the tax changes to help fleets achieve more balance-sheet benefits.

“We got ahead of the tax changes and have some new lease products that take advantage of the tax changes,” Griffin said. Leases now hit the balance sheet at “net present value,” he said.

In addition to the depreciation aspect of the tax plan, Griffin said the flat 21% tax on corporations has also allowed Fleet Advantage to “do a little more predictable planning for our customers.

“A lot of organizations are looking at this as an opportunity to upgrade their fleets,” he noted. “[And] our model is really starting to resonate, so we’ve seen a huge uptick [in business].”April 30, 2018 FreightWaves article excerpt

Apple (18 Apple store locations in Florida: Altamonte Springs, Aventura, Boca Raton, Brandon, Estero, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Miami Beach, Miami Brickell City Centre, Miami Dadeland, Miami The Falls, Naples, Orlando Florida Mall, Orlando Millenia, Palm Beach Gardens, Sarasota, Tampa, Wellington) --

$2,500 employee bonuses in the form of restricted stock units; $30 billion in additional capital expenditures over five years; 20,000 new employees will be hired; increased support of coding education and science, technology, engineering, arts, and math; increased support for U.S. manufacturing:

     Bonuses:

Apple Inc. told employees Wednesday that it’s issuing a bonus of $2,500 worth of restricted stock units, following the introduction of the new U.S. tax law, according to people familiar with the matter.

The iPhone maker will begin issuing stock grants to most employees worldwide in the coming months, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly. The move comes on the same day Apple said it would bring back most of its cash from overseas and spend $30 billion in the U.S. over the next five years, funding an additional technical support campus, data centers and 20,000 new employees.

Apple confirmed the bonuses in response to a Bloomberg inquiry Wednesday. – Jan. 17 2018, Bloomberg News article excerpt

     Capital expenditures, etc:

Apple expects to invest over $30 billion in capital expenditures in the US over the next five years and create over 20,000 new jobs through hiring at existing campuses and opening a new one.

Building on the initial success of the Advanced Manufacturing Fund announced last spring, Apple is increasing the size of the fund from $1 billion to $5 billion. The fund was established to support innovation among American manufacturers and help others establish a presence in the US. It is already backing projects with leading manufacturers in Kentucky and rural Texas.

Apple works with over 9,000 American suppliers — large and small businesses in all 50 states — and each of Apple’s core products relies on parts or materials made in the US or provided by US-based suppliers.

Apple, which has a 40-year history in education, also plans to accelerate its efforts across the US in support of coding education as well as programs focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM). – Jan. 17, 2018 Apple press release excerpts

Cintas (Multiple locations in Florida) -- $1,000 bonuses for employees of at least a year, $500 bonuses for employees of less than a year.

Walmart -- 67,500 Floridians employed at 328 Walmart stores will receive tax reform bonuses and wage increases and expanded maternity and parental leave. Walmart employees who adopt children will be given $5,000 to help cover expenses.

Lowes 21,000 employees at 123 stores and two distribution centers in Florida. Employees will receive bonuses of up to $1,000 based on length of service, expanded benefits and maternity/parental leave; and $5,000 of adoption assistance.

Home Depot -- 153 locations in Florida, Florida-based Home Depot employees will receive bonuses of up to $1,000.

Starbucks Coffee Company -- (Multiple locations in Florida) -- $500 stock grants for all Starbucks retail employees, $2,000 stock grants for store managers, and varying plan and support center employee stock grants, totaling more than $100 million nationwide in stock grants; 8,000 new retail jobs; an additional wage increase this year, totaling approximately $120 million in wage increases, increased sick time benefits and parental leave. 

U-Haul (Multiple locations in Florida) – $1,200 bonuses for full-time employees, $500 for part-time employees.

Bank of America -- (Multiple locations in Florida) Florida-based employees of Bank of America will receive $1,000 bonuses.

Comcast (Multiple locations in Florida) -- $1,000 bonuses; Nationally, at least $50 billion investment in infrastructure in next five years.

FifthThird Bancorp150 locations in Florida; $1,000 bonuses; base wage will increase to $15 per hour.

Wells Fargo -- 614 bank locations in Florida -- Base wage raised from $13.50 to $15.00 per hour; $400 million in charitable donations for 2018; $100 million increased capital investment over next three years. 

Walt Disney Company -- Florida-based Disney employees will receive $1,000 bonuses and benefit from the nationwide $50 million investment in employee education programs.

Note: If you know of other Florida examples, please email John Kartch at jkartch@atr.org

 

The running nationwide list of companies can be found at www.atr.org/list

Photo Credit: DonkeyHotey/Flickr

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