(1) As used in this section, the term: (a) “Eligible business” means any sole proprietorship, firm, partnership, or corporation that is located in a qualified county and is predominantly engaged in, or is headquarters for a business predominantly engaged in, activities usually provided for consideration by firms classified within the following standard industrial classifications: SIC 01-SIC 09 (agriculture, forestry, and fishing); SIC 20-SIC 39 (manufacturing); SIC 422 (public warehousing and storage); SIC 70 (hotels and other lodging places); SIC 7391 (research and development); SIC 781 (motion picture production and allied services); SIC 7992 (public golf courses); SIC 7996 (amusement parks); and a targeted industry eligible for the qualified target industry business tax refund under s. 288.106. A call center or similar customer service operation that services a multistate market or an international market is also an eligible business. In addition, the Department of Economic Opportunity may, as part of its final budget request submitted pursuant to s. 216.023, recommend additions to or deletions from the list of standard industrial classifications used to determine an eligible business, and the Legislature may implement such recommendations. Excluded from eligible receipts are receipts from retail sales, except such receipts for hotels and other lodging places classified in SIC 70, public golf courses in SIC 7992, and amusement parks in SIC 7996. For purposes of this paragraph, the term “predominantly” means that more than 50 percent of the business’s gross receipts from all sources is generated by those activities usually provided for consideration by firms in the specified standard industrial classification. The determination of whether the business is located in a qualified county and the tier ranking of that county must be based on the date of application for the credit under this section. Commonly owned and controlled entities are to be considered a single business entity.
(b) “Qualified employee” means any employee of an eligible business who performs duties in connection with the operations of the business on a regular, full-time basis for an average of at least 36 hours per week for at least 3 months within the qualified county in which the eligible business is located. The term also includes an employee leased from an employee leasing company licensed under chapter 468, if such employee has been continuously leased to the employer for an average of at least 36 hours per week for more than 6 months. An owner or partner of the eligible business is not a qualified employee.
1(c) “Qualified area” means any area that is contained within a rural area of opportunity designated under s. 288.0656, a county that has a population of fewer than 75,000 persons, or a county that has a population of 125,000 or less and is contiguous to a county that has a population of less than 75,000, selected in the following manner: every third year, the Department of Economic Opportunity shall rank and tier the state’s counties according to the following four factors:
1. Highest unemployment rate for the most recent 36-month period.
2. Lowest per capita income for the most recent 36-month period.
3. Highest percentage of residents whose incomes are below the poverty level, based upon the most recent data available.
4. Average weekly manufacturing wage, based upon the most recent data available.
(d) “New business” means any eligible business first beginning operation on a site in a qualified county and clearly separate from any other commercial or business operation of the business entity within a qualified county. A business entity that operated an eligible business within a qualified county within the 48 months before the period provided for application by subsection (2) is not considered a new business.
(e) “Existing business” means any eligible business that does not meet the criteria for a new business.
(2) A new eligible business may apply for a tax credit under this subsection once at any time during its first year of operation. A new eligible business in a qualified area that has at least 10 qualified employees on the date of application shall receive a $1,000 tax credit for each such employee.
(3) An existing eligible business may apply for a tax credit under this subsection at any time it is entitled to such credit, except as restricted by this subsection. An existing eligible business with fewer than 50 employees in a qualified area that on the date of application has at least 20 percent more qualified employees than it had 1 year prior to its date of application shall receive a $1,000 tax credit for each such additional employee. An existing eligible business that has 50 employees or more in a qualified area that, on the date of application, has at least 10 more qualified employees than it had 1 year prior to its date of application shall receive a $1,000 tax credit for each additional employee. Any existing eligible business that received a credit under subsection (2) may not apply for the credit under this subsection sooner than 12 months after the application date for the credit under subsection (2).
(4) For any new eligible business receiving a credit pursuant to subsection (2), an additional $500 credit shall be provided for any qualified employee who is a welfare transition program participant. For any existing eligible business receiving a credit pursuant to subsection (3), an additional $500 credit shall be provided for any qualified employee who is a welfare transition program participant. Such employee must be employed on the application date and have been employed less than 1 year. This credit shall be in addition to other credits pursuant to this section regardless of the tier-level of the county. Appropriate documentation concerning the eligibility of an employee for this credit must be submitted as determined by the department.
(5) To be eligible for a tax credit under subsection (3), the number of qualified employees employed 1 year prior to the application date must be no lower than the number of qualified employees on the application date on which a credit under this section was based for any previous application, including an application under subsection (2).
(6)(a) In order to claim this credit, an eligible business must file under oath with the Department of Economic Opportunity a statement that includes the name and address of the eligible business, the starting salary or hourly wages paid to the new employee, and any other information that the Department of Revenue requires.
(b) Pursuant to the incentive review process under s. 288.061, the Department of Economic Opportunity shall review the application to determine whether it contains all the information required by this subsection and meets the criteria set out in this section. Subject to the provisions of paragraph (c), the Department of Economic Opportunity shall approve all applications that contain the information required by this subsection and meet the criteria set out in this section as eligible to receive a credit.
(c) The maximum credit amount that may be approved during any calendar year is $5 million. The Department of Revenue, in conjunction with the Department of Economic Opportunity, shall notify the governing bodies in areas designated as qualified counties when the $5 million maximum amount has been reached. Applications must be considered for approval in the order in which they are received without regard to whether the credit is for a new or existing business. This limitation applies to the value of the credit as contained in approved applications. Approved credits may be taken in the time and manner allowed pursuant to this section.
(d) A business may not receive more than $500,000 of tax credits under this section during any one calendar year.
(7) If the application is insufficient to support the credit authorized in this section, the Department of Economic Opportunity shall deny the credit and notify the business of that fact. The business may reapply for this credit within 3 months after such notification.
(8) If the credit under this section is greater than can be taken on a single tax return, excess amounts may be taken as credits on any tax return submitted within 12 months after the approval of the application by the department.
(9) It is the responsibility of each business to affirmatively demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Department of Revenue that it meets the requirements of this section.
(10) Any person who fraudulently claims this credit is liable for repayment of the credit plus a mandatory penalty of 100 percent of the credit and is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. (11) A corporation may take the credit under this section against its corporate income tax liability, as provided in s. 220.1895. However, a corporation that uses its job tax credit against the tax imposed by chapter 220 may not receive the credit provided for in this section. A credit may be taken against only one tax. 1(12) A new or existing eligible business that receives a tax credit under subsection (2) or subsection (3) is eligible for a tax refund of up to 50 percent of the amount of sales tax on purchases of electricity paid by the business during the 1-year period after the date the credit is received. The total amount of tax refunds approved pursuant to this subsection may not exceed $600,000 during any calendar year. The department may adopt rules to administer this subsection. 1Note.—Section 56, ch. 2014-218, provides that:
“(1) The executive director of the Department of Economic Opportunity is authorized, and all conditions are deemed to be met, to adopt emergency rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54(4), Florida Statutes, for the purpose of implementing this act.
“(2) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the emergency rules adopted pursuant to subsection (1) remain in effect for 6 months after adoption and may be renewed during the pendency of procedures to adopt permanent rules addressing the subject of the emergency rules.
“(3) This section shall expire October 1, 2015.”