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Palm Beach County sales tax increase brings unexpected hike in bills, payments

Posted at 5:00 PM, Feb 15, 2017
and last updated 2019-03-27 11:27:56-04

Some residents of Palm Beach County are starting to see an increase in their bills and payments in unexpected places after voters decided to increase the sales tax in November.

Monthly lease payments are nothing new for Courtney Lyne of Jupiter.

"This is my eighth leased car," Lyne said.

This month she saw her lease payment go up.

"Honestly, until this story, I hadn't even noticed," Lyne said.

She was surprised to find the boost in the Palm Beach County sales tax boosted her lease payment.

In November, voters decided to increase the sales tax in Palm Beach County from 6 percent to 7 percent.

For Lyne, the 1 percent increase means she pays around $4 more a month. 

It is money she had no idea was coming out of her wallet and she isn't alone.

"Even bringing it to my parents, they were very surprised," Lyne said. "It was very shocking for a lot of people."  

"It's not us, we didn't change your payment," Stu Stewart of Earl Stewart Toyota said.

Earl Stewart Toyota is one of several dealerships where customers have called them confused.

"We've had to explain that was an automatic thing," said Stewart. "You pay taxes on your total lease payment, so that can fluctuate if you make changes to the tax rate."

Financial expert Michael Terrio said there are several areas where people have been surprised.

"One big one that was a surprise for most people was going to be electricity. That was a big expense they weren't expecting to see," Terrio said.

Terrio's advice is, even if you use auto-pay, make sure you check just how much is leaving your account.

"Many people don't realize what they're paying, and all of a sudden one day they wake up and there's a little shock and awe," Terrio said.

Lyne voted yes for the sales tax increase on Election Day and hopes the extra money will come back to her family in another way.

"This is very minimal, $4 on my lease is not a big change, but I hope my son goes to Independence Middle School, so I'm hoping he'll see the benefit of it," said Lyne.

With a child in the school system, she's hopeful a small boost will lead to big changes down the road.

The county hopes the sales tax increase will bring in an extra $2 billion over the next decade. Half of that money will go to the Palm Beach County School district.

Click here for more information on sales tax in Florida.