[UPDATE] Property Tax Relief in Florida

By: Lilly Rockwell, The News Service of Florida; AP Email
By: Lilly Rockwell, The News Service of Florida; AP Email


First-time home buyers, business owners and snowbirds will get new property tax breaks under a proposed constitutional amendment passed in the House on Monday.

The measure (HJR 381), if also approved by the Senate, would allow voters to decide whether to put a 5 percent cap on property tax assessment increases for business owners, investors and landlords that own “non-homestead” property.

Voters would also decide whether to give first-time home buyers a tax break of 50 percent of the assessed value of their home, capped at 50 percent of the median home value in their county.

Current law puts a cap of 10 percent on assessment increases for non-homestead properties.

“If this House is truly about stimulating jobs, this is a bill that tells the business community ‘We are not going to penalize you anymore,’ ” said Rep. Fred Costello, R-Ormond Beach. The measure passed on a 105-11 vote.

This bill is a big priority for Florida Realtors, who got a similar measure passed in 2009, but saw it struck down by the courts for confusing ballot language. Realtors said this year’s effort should better survive a court challenge.

Supporters of the proposal say it helps correct inequity in the property tax system. Under the “Save Our Homes” law, owner-occupied homes – those with a homestead exemption - have their tax assessment increases capped at 3 percent.

This has caused many counties to rely more heavily on the non-homestead properties, such as businesses, apartments and investment properties for tax revenue, backers say. But the bill is opposed by cities and counties, whose officials say they stand to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.

Opponents say it will cause cities and counties to look at new sources of revenue, yielding tax increases to all property owners.

House Minority Leader Ron Saunders, R-Key West, broke ranks with many Democrats to support the bill.

“This amendment is for tax fairness,” said Saunders, whose district is home to many snowbirds and vacation home owners who are subjected to the current 10 percent assessment cap and face higher tax bills than those in owner-occupied homes.

The Senate has yet to take up the companion measure or withdraw it from its last committee stop. Realtor lobbyist John Sebree said they are “obviously working hard for that.”

Another bill (HB 1053) would put the proposed amendment on the presidential primary ballot in early 2012. House Democrats voted Monday to not stray from an earlier position to oppose putting any constitutional amendments on the presidential primary ballot. Republicans need Democratic votes to pass HB 1053, because 90 votes are needed to put the measure on the January ballot.

Lawmakers are also examining other property tax cuts. The Senate passed an expansion of an existing property tax break for disabled military veterans on Monday. The measure (SJR 592) was passed unanimously.

Also part of the budget talks is a proposal to require Florida’s water management districts to reduce their tax rates later this year and require more legislative involvement in district budgets.


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- A proposed state constitutional amendment providing wide-ranging property tax relief has cleared the Florida House.

The proposed ballot measure (HJR 381) that passed Monday faces an uncertain fate in the Senate where similar legislation is mired in committee. It would give a tax break to owners of property not covered by the existing Save Our Homes Amendment. That amendment limits annual assessment increases on primary homes, known as homesteads, to no more than 3 percent.

Another amendment adopted in 2008 set a 10 percent limit for non-homestead property. The new proposal would drop that to 5 percent.

Other provisions would do away with the "recapture rule" that increases assessments when property values drop and give an additional exemption to buyers who haven't owned a home in three years.

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  • by Anonymous on May 3, 2011 at 07:43 AM
    Have to agree with Steve, part year resident/visitors who can afford to have a home here AND another up north somewhere should NOT get any tax benefit. Even a state resident who has two properties only has benefit of homestead exemption on one - and that exemption can be cancelled by an annonomous report to the county property appraiser saying they don`t live in a property all year. One county found that banks and other lenders were getting benefit of reduced homestead tax bills on homes that were foreclosed on and shorting the county hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue. Taxpayers should not have to subsidize a business startup with a tax break-they already have other tax benefits that individuals and residence owners do not have.
  • by Steve Location: Tallahassee on May 3, 2011 at 06:38 AM
    Why should snowbirds get tax benefits? They only live in Florida 1/2 the year, and are wealthy people who can afford to own two homes! They don't need the tax breaks at all! That money should be spent on educating our children, NOT giving it back to the rich who are only here 6 months out of the year and are spending their money in another state 6 months out of the year. This is soooo wrong! DO NOT give any tax-breaks to the snowbirds!
    • reply
      by Elizabeth on May 3, 2011 at 09:51 AM in reply to Steve
      write your REP.Alan Williams or Michelle Vasnilinda the STRICK this HJR 381 for WE live in Florida 365 days a week NOT JUST FOR 1/2 yr The measure (HJR 381), if also approved by the Senate, would allow voters to decide whether to put a 5 percent cap on property tax assessment increases for business owners, investors and landlords that own “non-homestead” property
      • reply
        by Reagan Republican on May 5, 2011 at 12:00 AM in reply to Elizabeth
        Elizabeth: Why do you not want to be fair to your neighbors who own the same valued home as yours or business for that matter? Please tell me Why?
    • reply
      by Reagan Republican on May 4, 2011 at 11:58 PM in reply to Steve
      Steve: Did you say tax breaks to the wealthy? What a spin on words. Did you read the above article in full? Anyone who owns a non-homestead property (business, rental home, vacant land) pays A LOT MORE money in property taxes than someone who has a homestead exemption. Florida is the only state I am aware of that charges different property tax rates to the same properties. In other states, everyone pays the same percentage. Imagine if everyone in Florida paid the same property tax rate percentage no matter if the property was homestead or non-homestead. Florida would have a tremendous amount of more money to educate our children if we all paid the same rate!
  • by grady Location: tallahassee on May 2, 2011 at 02:28 PM
    hard to believe how selfish some people have gotten. dont even want to fund public schools. saddest part is that this is being promoted as tax relief. as if we shouldnt be taxed at all. and we are broke. pitiful.
  • by BOB Location: HAVANA on May 2, 2011 at 01:59 PM
  • by Jesse Location: Tallahassee on May 2, 2011 at 01:11 PM
    Wonderful. Continue to cut revenue and services until only the compassionate corporations and their equally compassionate share holders will be the only ones available for funding needed services, repairing roads, and the other little things in life. I'm sure it will work.
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