Under Florida state law, counties may impose a discretionary sales surtax to invest in local infrastructure improvements. Such surtaxes must be approved by a majority of voters in a referendum. In three successive referendums, Sarasota County voters have authorized a 1% sales surtax, on top of the 6% state sales tax, to invest in capital improvement projects for the County, School District and municipalities. The one-cent sales surtax applies to the first $5,000 of any purchase that is subject to the state sales tax. Proceeds from the surtax may only be used to invest in public infrastructure projects such as parks, roads, sidewalks, libraries and schools; it may not be used to pay for general operating expenses.
Revenue from the infrastructure surtax is shared by the County, the School District and the municipalities. One-quarter of the revenue is allocated to the School District. The remaining 75% is distributed among the County and the municipalities based on population.