TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - BP’s oil killed birds, poisoned fish, and knocked many of Florida’s tourism businesses into the red.
Laurie Olshefski’s Panhandle clothing and jewelry stores are among the businesses still reeling from a half a billion dollar drop off in economic activity. “We saw decreases on our sales in our most busiest months at 30 percent.”
Laurie, joined the Florida Retail Federation and Florida TaxWatch in a plea to BP to sponsor seven sales tax holidays to help fix the economic damage caused by the oil giant’s mistakes.
“It would bring people from all over to shop. It’s better to give tax free shopping than give a 50 percent discount. Don’t ask me why, it’s just the way it is,” said Rick McAllister with the Florida Retail Federation.
Panhandle businesses make most of their profits during the summer. But this summer the oil spill kept the tourists away, even though very little oil landed on Florida’s beaches. Florida TaxWatch, a nonpartisan government research group, says eliminating the sales tax will slowly start to bring them back.
“As it goes through the economy it’s going to help kick start the entire economy, bring things up and we think it could actually decrease future claims that people have,” said Kurt Wenner of Florida TaxWatch.
If BP agrees to the plan, the sales tax holidays would be hosted one weekend every month from May until September. TaxWatch estimates the cost at 25 million.
The way it would work is the state, cities and counties would wave the tax and BP would reimburse the government. No word yet from BP on the company's thoughts on the plan.
Meantime the Justice Department on Wednesday sued BP and eight other companies in the Gulf oil spill disaster in an effort to recover billions of dollars.
The Obama administration's lawsuit asks that the companies be held liable without limitation under the Oil Pollution Act for all removal costs and damages caused by the oil spill, including damages to natural resources. The lawsuit also seeks civil penalties under the Clean Water Act.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
Copyright (c) 2010 The E. W. Scripps Company
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