Hurricane Rebates in the Works?

By: Mike Vasilinda
By: Mike Vasilinda

Under Florida law, property taxes are assessed on the value as of January 1. It doesn’t matter if the homes were destroyed or damaged in August or September.

The full bill is due, but now Gov. Jeb Bush says lawmakers ought to ease the pain with a rebate when he calls them into special session in December.

Many of the details are still being worked out, but don’t plan on giving the rebate for your entire tax bill, the rebate will only apply to the damage structure, not the ground on which it sits.

Gov. Bush says, "We would rebate you the taxes on the improved property, not on the land, but on the improved property. There might be a cap so folks that lost $2 million homes may not get the full amount."

Local governments have yet to take a position on the tax break, but counties are saying the money can’t come out of their already cash-strapped budgets.

Cliff Thaell, the president of the Florida Association of Counties, says, "The overall ability of our counties to operate and provide essential lifesaving services could be impacted."

Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher has been helping negotiate the details.

Gallagher says, "Whether we have the county issue refunds and we reimburse them from saved money, because I don’t think any of us believe we should burden the counties, those are details that need to be worked out."

But the fight will likely be over how much of a break should be given and whether the money comes from state or local coffers. Much of that will depend on new revenue estimates due late this week.


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