Oct 23 2007

Florida House Proposes Changes for Property Tax Relief

The Tallahassee Tax MachineOne of the contributing factors stagnating our market is the incredible increase in property taxes in the past few years exacerbated by the inequity in taxes between homestead and non-homestead properties. With the vast majority of our properties having absentee owners, this is a major concern here. On Saturday, October 20, Florida’s House of Representatives released its updated property tax reform plan.

House leaders now hope to build a bipartisan consensus to show the Senate they’re serious about drastically cutting state property taxes. If Democrats and Republicans pass the measure with something close to a majority, they reason, the Senate would have to consider the plan.

In addition to portability – which the governor, Senate and House already advocate – the updated House proposal includes a 5 percent assessment cap on commercial and non-homestead property. The cap applies to properties, not owners, so a change of ownership would not change those taxes under a new owner, giving non-homestead property owners a degree of stability and predictability.

The House also advocates a new homestead exemption. Instead of doubling the current $25,000 exemption, a proposal I have been vehemently against because it’s a proven disaster, the plan would guarantee a minimum Save Our Homes exemption of 40 percent of a county’s median home price. According to a staffer in Jimmy Patronis’ office whom I spoke with, the current figures being used for Gulf County, subject to change of course, would be 40 percent of $138,000 for non-moving, $397,000 for moving, and $428,000 for first time claimants of the homestead exemption. These cuts would provide a net -24.1% change in taxes. House leaders believe this will provide relief to not only new buyers but also those who have purchased in the past few years.

Issues proposed in the House plan include:

  1. Homestead property owners would pay tax based on their existing Save Our Homes value or current value minus 40 percent of their county’s current median home price, whichever is less.
  2. 5 percent cap on commercial and non-homestead property taxes
  3. Under portability, homeowners may transfer Save Our Homes benefits to a new homestead anywhere in Florida within two years of leaving their former homestead.
  4. Tangible personal property exemption of $25,000
  5. Limits the authority of local governments to increase property taxes
  6. Provides limitations on the assessed value of properties used for affordable housing
  7. 5 percent assessment growth limitation for all non-homestead properties
  8. More flexibility for the Legislature to limit assessments for working waterfront properties
  9. Election of all county property appraisers

The House went into session late Monday afternoon for further debate, so I will keep you posted as I hear of updates. If you would like to contact our representative, Jimmy Patronis, his contact info is as follows:

Capitol Office:
1102 The Capitol
402 South Monroe Street
Tallahasse, FL 32399-1300

District Office:
Suite A
455 Harrison Avenue
Panama City, FL 32401-2775

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