Florida voters could offer significant property tax exemptions to Florida’s teachers, firefighters, active-duty members of the U.S. military, and other specified professions, amid a relatively hostile housing market.
But a well-meaning tax exemption may bring about other complications, such as a loss of local government tax revenue, according to a tax watchdog group. What may seem like a simple ballot initiative could mean many layers, leaving Floridians stumped on whether to support the measure or not.
Voters will go to the poll Nov. 8 on Constitutional Amendment No. 3 — the homestead property tax exemption — though early voting and mail-in ballots have already launched.
Amendment 3 is the result of a House joint resolution passed by the Florida Legislature in 2022. At least 60 percent of voters would have to approve the measure to prevail.
The Amendment states:
“Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to authorize the Legislature, by general law, to grant an additional homestead tax exemption for nonschool levies of up to $50,000 of the assessed value of homestead property owned by classroom teachers, law enforcement officers, correctional officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, child welfare services professionals, active duty members of the United States Armed Forces, and Florida National Guard members. This amendment shall take effect January 1, 2023.”
According to a legislative staff analysis, Florida homeowners already have a homestead exemption of up to $25,000 dollars. And there’s an additional exemption, also up to $25,000, which “applies to the property’s value between $50,000 and $75,000,” according to the analysis.
The League of Women Voters of Florida opposes the measure because it believes the Florida Constitution is not the place to determine tax policies.
“This proposal may have merit but the League has a longstanding position that ‘no tax sources or revenue should be specified, limited, exempted, or prohibited in the Constitution,’ according to the organization’s website.
The website also notes that approval of the amendment could lead to a loss of revenue for local governments.
The staff analysis, which ushered in Amendment 3 to be on the ballot, reports that starting in the 2023-24 fiscal year, the tax exemption would “reduce local property tax revenue for all levies other than school district levies by $85.9 million.”
The Florida Education Association — the statewide teacher union whose clientele is composed of Florida educators — is not taking a position on Amendment 3 one way or another.
Florida TaxWatch, described as a nonpartisan, nonprofit taxpayer research institute and government watchdog, reiterates that the group supports the amendment, saying “the benefits of Amendment 3 far outweigh the negative consequences of a tax shift.”
According to TaxWatch’s 2022 voter guide: “A tax shift is not a tax cut and, although that segment of the ‘Specified Critical Public Services Workforce’ who are fortunate enough to own their own homes will benefit, the burden of additional taxes will be borne by everybody else, with higher taxes on lower-income homeowners and small businesses, and increased rents for renters (including those members of the “Specified Critical Public Services Workforce” who rent their homes).”
That said, TaxWatch also notes that property tax revenue help fund government services, and if the revenue falls, “cities, counties, and special districts may experience difficulty maintaining important government services, such as law enforcement, fire departments, etc., without raising other taxes to make up the reduction.”
Some of the professions already have some property tax exemptions, depending on their situation, with many going to disabled veterans, according to the legislative analysis.
First responders who have a permanent service-related disability are entitled to a “complete exemption for the property.” Same for veterans who use wheelchairs due to a service-connected disability.
For veterans who are “disabled to a degree of 10 percent or more by misfortune or during wartime service” can get an exemption for any property up to $5,000.
Counties and municipalities may grant additional homestead tax exemptions towards Floridians aged 65 or older whose household income equals $20,000 or lower.
–Danielle J. Brown, Florida Phoenix
I don’t think this is a fair tax exemption. I voted no. I have heard the excuse that firefighters, police, teachers and the other groups make that they can’t afford to live in the city they work. Well, what about the plumber, AC repairman, lawn care person, fast food worker who is trying to make a living here. Do they get a tax break? NO. Why should these other groups have to make up for lost city/county revenue. You know the local governments will make that money up by raising the taxes on all other property owners.
I have heard that “these are our hero’s, and we should give them extra benefits.” Trust me, when my AC goes out in July, the AC repairman is my hero. So give them a break too.
We are separating people into classes. If I chose to be a police officer, fireman, or teacher or one of the others, that is my decision. It’s what I chose to be as my career. When I go to look for a job, the pay, cost of living, etc. is considered in if I take that job in that area.
I believe everyone should be on the same level playing field. An exemption for one should be an exemption for all. I live in PC. I chose a job that I like. I get paid a certain amount of money. I deal with the rise in taxes, inflation, cost of living. If I don’t have enough money to live within my means I either change jobs, get a part time job to add additional income, move, or find some other way to support my family. As an everyday working person, dealing with the same inflation, rise in taxes, everyday cost of living, I want the same benefits as my fellow resident here.
The only group I would support getting an additional tax break is for enlisted miliary people. Not officer ranks but the regular enlisted person. I was an enlisted navy person and trust me, based on their pay, they need a break. Not the officer level for sure.
Vote No for this so we can keep tax equality for all.
Let me explain how this works.
As a tradesmen, blue collar worker. Certain jobs you choose to go into are your decision. The practice of getting incentives for certain professions has been like this for a long time. This is nothing new. Teachers are underpaid as it is and their duty to essentially raise your children and teach them not only education but life lessons isn’t an easy one since what they believe is right may conflict with the parents so it is a constant struggle to navigate for the child’s best interest. In the military, where your taxes have been going for defense, certain MOS’s have incentives for certain fields. Same with nursing, same with other fields, same with AC/HVAC depending on company hiring. These are called essential jobs, roles, businesses. I understand your point, sometimes i feel the same way, that is until i married a teacher. Now i truly see what the hell they go through and how crappy they get paid. Do firefighters and emergency personnel deserve an extra bonus on exemption? Im in the construction industry.. kids these days don’t want to do that anymore either, they’d rather sit behind a desk and design games. I don’t deserve anything special…but look at it like i do. What other incentives can you provide other than exemptions for emergency personnel risking their lives to protect and serve. I mean who wants to be a cop these days, they get crap pay and abuse and black balled and sometimes shot. No thanks. I’m ok with an exemption of 25k or 50 k. It isn’t that much money out of my pocket every year if you really break it down between the community. I’m a vet as well, but our incentives are, VA loans/healthcare/discounts etc. Most of the people in the military unless there is a war are on standby most of the time. Its a regular job until you gotta go. Emergency personnel are on call everyday and put their lives on the line everyday so that isn’t a comparison. Open your mind like i did man…
Nephew of Uncle Sam says
I Voted NO. Part of this is the same group Gov. Duh handed out $1000 checks to, this is no more than grandstanding. Are they all good professions? Yes, but it is their choice to have that profession and why shouldn’t Teacher Aides, Para-Professionals, Nursery School Teachers/Aides, Maintenance Staff, Administration, Lunch Room Aides etc. all receive the same exemption? Why have it for Law Enforcement/Fire professionals but not their support staff too? What happens when they retire, they will all be howling how their exemption was taken from them. Leave it to the Counties to decide exemptions.
agree……teachers need incentives. My wife makes under 25k a year for dealing with rug rats all day.. stressed out in the public system. Same with social workers. they get crappy pay too. Those are the ones who need it…those are the ones that make a change…not just a regular nine to 5…
I’m a 90% disabled Navy veteran and get a measly $5,000 so I say no. Give them 5k.
Dennis C Rathsam says
What about retirees…. We worked all are lifes, paid our dues! Where the hell is our relief?
Thats just plain stupid. I could see military. The rest…it’s just a job.
As the assessments have been trending up, the homestead exemption amounts need to trend up as well by the same percentage & apply across the board. I’m for modifying homestead exemption qualification & that includes the homestead exemption that applies after owning the same home for 25+ years. If that’s going to be a senior benefit, one shouldn’t have to own the sam4e property for 25+ years as a primary residence, it should apply to all seniors. I think the existing homestead should be a minimum floor and then apply additional homestead exemptions as applicable, but I think it should be based on thresholds & percentages for property values, even income thresholds.
Whether it is the Republicans with selective tax cuts (which I’ve never seemed to get), or Democrats with selective handouts, (which similarly in my life I have never seemed to qualify for) both parties usually make life more complicated while while robbing “Peter” to pay “Paul”.
A complication is that people who might benefit (firefighters, teachers, etc.), but rent are out of luck. Local tax officials will be burdened with administrating the tax break. The group in question would save maybe a thousand dollars a year. If helping out these people is that important, why not have the State pay them directly.
I follow the KISS principle. Keep It Simple Stupid. It does not belong in the Florida Constitution. It also is an unfunded mandate. It deserves to be voted down.
Joseph Barand says
You’re obviously shitting me. Most public servants already have too many handouts, LEO’s and Firemen with outrageous “planned” overtime, pensions for life after 20 years of service with guaranteed Cola’s, we need to level the playing field rather than continue to turn public service employees into the 21st century elites.