(1) The exercise of the powers granted by this act will be in all respects for the benefit of the people of this state, for the increase of their commerce, welfare, and prosperity, and for the improvement of their health and living conditions. The design, construction, operation, maintenance, and financing of a high-speed rail system by the 1authority, its agent, or the owner or lessee thereof, as herein authorized, constitutes the performance of an essential public function.
(2)(a) For the purposes of this section, the term 1“authority” does not include agents of the 1authority other than contractors who qualify as such pursuant to subsection (7).
(b) For the purposes of this section, any item or property that is within the definition of “associated development” in s. 341.8203(1) shall not be considered to be part of the high-speed rail system as defined in 2s. 341.8203(6).
(3)(a) Purchases or leases of tangible personal property or real property by the 1authority, excluding agents of the 1authority, are exempt from taxes imposed by chapter 212 as provided in s. 212.08(6). Purchases or leases of tangible personal property that is incorporated into the high-speed rail system as a component part thereof, as determined by the 1authority, by agents of the 1authority or the owner of the high-speed rail system are exempt from sales or use taxes imposed by chapter 212. Leases, rentals, or licenses to use real property granted to agents of the 1authority or the owner of the high-speed rail system are exempt from taxes imposed by s. 212.031 if the real property becomes part of such system. The exemptions granted in this subsection do not apply to sales, leases, or licenses by the 1authority, agents of the 1authority, or the owner of the high-speed rail system.
(b) The exemption granted in paragraph (a) to purchases or leases of tangible personal property by agents of the 1authority or by the owner of the high-speed rail system applies only to property that becomes a component part of such system. It does not apply to items, including, but not limited to, cranes, bulldozers, forklifts, other machinery and equipment, tools and supplies, or other items of tangible personal property used in the construction, operation, or maintenance of the high-speed rail system when such items are not incorporated into the high-speed rail system as a component part thereof.
(4) Any bonds or other security, and all notes, mortgages, security agreements, letters of credit, or other instruments that arise out of or are given to secure the repayment of bonds or other security, issued by the 1authority, or on behalf of the 1authority, their transfer, and the income therefrom, including any profit made on the sale thereof, shall at all times be free from taxation of every kind by the state, the counties, and the municipalities and other political subdivisions in the state. This subsection, however, does not exempt from taxation or assessment the leasehold interest of a lessee in any project or any other property or interest owned by the lessee. The exemption granted by this subsection is not applicable to any tax imposed by chapter 220 on interest income or profits on the sale of debt obligations owned by corporations.
(5) When property of the 1authority is leased to another person or entity, the property shall be exempt from ad valorem taxation only if the use by the lessee qualifies the property for exemption under s. 196.199.
(6) A leasehold interest held by the 1authority is not subject to intangible tax. However, if a leasehold interest held by the 1authority is subleased to a nongovernmental lessee, such subleasehold interest shall be deemed to be an interest described in s. 199.023(1)(d), Florida Statutes 2005, and is subject to the intangible tax.
(7)(a) In order to be considered an agent of the 1authority for purposes of the exemption from sales and use tax granted by subsection (3) for tangible personal property incorporated into the high-speed rail system, a contractor of the 1authority that purchases or fabricates such tangible personal property must be certified by the 1authority as provided in this subsection.
(b)1. A contractor must apply for a renewal of the exemption not later than December 1 of each calendar year.
2. A contractor must apply to the 1authority on the application form adopted by the 1authority, which shall develop the form in consultation with the Department of Revenue.
3. The 1authority shall review each submitted application and determine whether it is complete. The 1authority shall notify the applicant of any deficiencies in the application within 30 days. Upon receipt of a completed application, the 1authority shall evaluate the application for exemption under this subsection and issue a certification that the contractor is qualified to act as an agent of the 1authority for purposes of this section or a denial of such certification within 30 days. The 1authority shall provide the Department of Revenue with a copy of each certification issued upon approval of an application. Upon receipt of a certification from the 1authority, the Department of Revenue shall issue an exemption permit to the contractor.
(c)1. The contractor may extend a copy of its exemption permit to its vendors in lieu of paying sales tax on purchases of tangible personal property qualifying for exemption under this section. Possession of a copy of the exemption permit relieves the seller of the responsibility of collecting tax on the sale, and the Department of Revenue shall look solely to the contractor for recovery of tax upon a determination that the contractor was not entitled to the exemption.
2. The contractor may extend a copy of its exemption permit to real property subcontractors supplying and installing tangible personal property that is exempt under subsection (3). Any such subcontractor is authorized to extend a copy of the permit to the subcontractor’s vendors in order to purchase qualifying tangible personal property tax-exempt. If the subcontractor uses the exemption permit to purchase tangible personal property that is determined not to qualify for exemption under subsection (3), the Department of Revenue may assess and collect any tax, penalties, and interest that are due from either the contractor holding the exemption permit or the subcontractor that extended the exemption permit to the seller.
(d) Any contractor authorized to act as an agent of the 1authority under this section shall maintain the necessary books and records to document the exempt status of purchases and fabrication costs made or incurred under the permit. In addition, an authorized contractor extending its exemption permit to its subcontractors shall maintain a copy of the subcontractor’s books, records, and invoices indicating all purchases made by the subcontractor under the authorized contractor’s permit. If, in an audit conducted by the Department of Revenue, it is determined that tangible personal property purchased or fabricated claiming exemption under this section does not meet the criteria for exemption, the amount of taxes not paid at the time of purchase or fabrication shall be immediately due and payable to the Department of Revenue, together with the appropriate interest and penalty, computed from the date of purchase, in the manner prescribed by chapter 212.
(e) If a contractor fails to apply for a high-speed rail system exemption permit, or if a contractor initially determined by the 1authority to not qualify for exemption is subsequently determined to be eligible, the contractor shall receive the benefit of the exemption in this subsection through a refund of previously paid taxes for transactions that otherwise would have been exempt. A refund may not be made for such taxes without the issuance of a certification by the 1authority that the contractor was authorized to make purchases tax-exempt and a determination by the Department of Revenue that the purchases qualified for the exemption.
(f) The 1authority may adopt rules governing the application process for exemption of a contractor as an authorized agent of the 1authority.
(g) The Department of Revenue may adopt rules governing the issuance and form of high-speed rail system exemption permits, the audit of contractors and subcontractors using such permits, the recapture of taxes on nonqualified purchases, and the manner and form of refund applications.
History.—s. 48, ch. 2002-20; s. 16, ch. 2004-366; s. 53, ch. 2007-5.
1Note.—Section 12, ch. 2009-271, repealed s. 341.821, which created and established the Florida High-Speed Rail Authority to be referred to as the “authority.”
2Note.—Redesignated as s. 341.8203(3) by s. 11, ch. 2009-271.