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Property Tax Amendments on November 6 Ballot Would Cut Local Revenue Further

| September 13, 2012

The vogue. (David Lytle)


Florida voters in November will face a flurry of proposed amendments to reduce property tax levies for groups ranging from first-time homebuyers to disabled veterans, while preventing increases on those whose homes lose value.

Approved by the Legislature in 2011, several constitutional measures, led by Amendment 4, lump together a series of tax breaks that expand homestead exemptions for targeted groups. They also provide additional Save our Homes-like protections for commercial and non-residential property owners.

Economists say the four property tax amendments on the Nov. 6 ballot would reduce local taxes by nearly $2 billion over the next four years.

The main proposal is Amendment 4, which would prevent property assessments from going up when the value of the property goes down. Currently, property tax assessments are governed by the Save Our Homes law – which allows for assessments to go up only by as much as 3 percent a year, but has no mechanism for preventing an increase when the actual value declines. The law never contemplated the real estate price drop that Florida has seen over the last couple years.

Though the actual values of many Florida homes have dropped in the last few years, many homes’ assessed values are still well below the actual value of the property. That’s because for years the real values increased by much more than 3 percent a year while assessment increases were capped.

Amendment 4 would also reduce from 10 percent to 5 percent the cap on annual assessment increases on non-homesteaded properties, such as businesses or vacation homes.

First time homebuyers would get a temporary additional break by receiving an additional homestead exemption that would phase out over five years.

“Reducing the uncertainty of potentially large property tax increases will increase investment in both non-homestead residential and commercial property in Florida, and the econometric model bears that out,” said Jerry Parrish, chief economist for Florida TaxWatch, in a report favorable of Amendment 4 released in July.

Backers of Amendment 4 have amassed millions for the effort. The Florida Realtors have raised more than $2 million for their political action committee, Taxpayers First, which has paid for mailers and other advertising in support of Amendment 4.

A coalition of city and county groups, sheriffs and others is trying to muster forces to fight the proposal, arguing it will result in cuts to schools, fire protection, law enforcement and other local services funded largely through property taxes. They also say it would further skew the tax burden of owners of similar properties.

Amber Hughes, a Florida League of Cities advocate, said the organization opposes Amendment 4 and is trying to get the word out to members and their constituents that its passage will mean billions in lost revenue to already cash-strapped local governments.

The Legislative Office of Economic and Demographic Research estimates that city, county and special taxing districts would lose $1.7 billion over the next four years if the measure were approved.

“The biggest issue is that (Amendment 4) makes our property tax system much more complicated and treats similar properties differently,” Hughes said.

While Amendment 4 has drawn most of the attention, three other tax amendments will also face voters in November. Unlike Amendment 4, the other proposed changes have not prompted much criticism, largely because they will not significantly reduce local revenues.

They are:

– Amendment 2: The proposal would provide an additional $25,000 homestead exemption to a disabled veteran or a dependent.

-Amendment 9: The proposal would provide an additional $25,000 homestead exemption for the surviving spouse of a deceased military veteran or first responder.

– Amendment 11: The proposal would offer an additional $25,000 exemption for residents 65 and older whose income is less than $25,000 a year.

–News Service of Florida

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7 Responses for “Property Tax Amendments on November 6 Ballot Would Cut Local Revenue Further”

  1. MSFB says:

    Why not just make it simple. If you pay $100,000 dollars for a house or piece of property, that’s is exactly what that house or property is worth until it is sold. Then if the house or property is sold for higher or lower then that becomes what the house or property is worth.

    • Liana G says:

      I thought about that but this means that those living in their homes for years on end get to enjoy relatively low taxes while new owners have to pay more if the value of the house they purchased increased at the time of purchase. On the flip side though, the only way that the value would increase is for the neighbourhood to retain and upkeep its appeal. No sane person would pay a pound and a crown for an okay house in a crappy neighbourhood. So I guess the longtime home owners do deserve that break.

  2. ryan says:

    They sure were nice and quiet about the garage sale tracking, and redevelopment agency fees that drain our tax dollars, why now?

  3. Ben Blakely says:

    Support this movement to reduce the excessive and burdensome taxes being levied on all property owners in Flagler. Government is all about waste and over spending. It is time for them to start operating efficiently like business does. The days of liberal left profligate spending are OVER!

    Citizens cannot afford the heavy load of current taxes. Relief MUST BE obtained by referendum amendment vote in November. Help us all win relief from abusive government taxation.

  4. Liana G says:

    …”Though the actual values of many Florida homes have dropped in the last few years, many homes’ assessed values are still well below the actual value of the property. That’s because for years the real values increased by much more than 3 percent a year while assessment increases were capped.”…

    Even if this were true, what increases in services have gov’t provided to go with the increases in revenues collected. All gov’t have done is expanded an already bloated and corrupt system. A too big to fail gov’t is not only tyranny, but a parasitical liability providing no real value and benefits.

  5. tulip says:

    I can’t help but have the feeling that IF the amendment passes and there now would be less money coming into the gov’t. that probably means “they” will find ways to add new “fees”, raise milleage rates, etc., so be very careful reading and thinking about these amendments before voting because for every action there is a reaction.

    In other words, what ever a resident would “save” on taxes would be spent elsewhere on fees, or our services would be cut severely. Either way, the resident in one way or another will still “pay.” Actually, taxes here are reasonable, for now anyway, when compared with other areas.

    Our taxable value on homes is less than the market value and the “sellable value” if there is such a term, so what’s to complain about. We are paying taxes on the lesser amount.

  6. concerned taxpayer says:

    I believe that 1 way of saving taxpayer dollars is if Miss Suzanne Johnston did not bribe her employees with vacation time to have her name in the spotlight. miss Suzanne Johnston is a very competitive person. and her first term she gave all of her employees 1 week extra vacation time for selling the most of a certain specialty plate. also in her first term she gave another weeks vacation to all of her employees for selling another specialty plate. she has been competing every year to collect the most money for feed Flagler. last year when she found out that the sheriff was running against her to try to collect the most money she bribed her employees with extra vacation time if they collected the most money. if they collected a certain amount of time they got 2 days paid vacation time and to ever collected the most money got a whole week vacation time. During the summer there was a new program for collecting money for children who could not afford school supplies, she again bribe her employees with extra vacation time to collect the most money. it’s all about Miss Susie and having her name in the spotlight and making herself look good at the expense of taxpayers dollars.

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