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Florida tax cut benefits yacht owners

Florida just passed a series of sweeping tax cuts that will save Floridians more than $400 million. It's all part of Republican Gov. Rick Scott's effort to help the average Florida family.

Apparently, the average Florida family spends more than $1 million a year to repair their megayacht.

Buried in the everyday tax breaks of the bill just signed into law—including tax-free purchases of textbooks and gun-club membership fees—is a little-known boon for yacht owners.

Yachts at a marina
Veronica Garbutt | Lonely Planet Images | Getty Images

The tax break bars the state from collecting more than $60,000 for any boat repairs.

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So, if you want to change the aging gold-leaf and lacquer interior of your 150-foot Feadship to a more modern white marble and crystal, your $10 million refit will be taxed the same as a $1 million job.

Florida boating representatives say the tax break will help generate jobs at South Florida's marinas and boatyards, as boaters will be drawn to the state to do their bigger projects. But critics say it's another government handout to the rich.

"It is something that is for the wealthy and the very wealthy and does nothing for the little guy," Democratic Sen. Geraldine Thompson of Orlando told the Sun Sentinel.

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Republican Sen. Jack Latvala of Clearwater, who sponsored the amendment, told The Associated Press that the cut is "not about saving millionaires money, ... it's about getting jobs for people who aren't millionaires."

Would owners of $20 million megayachts choose not to do a repair or renovation in Florida because of a slightly higher tax rate? Perhaps. But the tax break is expected to save only about $5.5 million, while the public controversy could be far more taxing.