Well, there’s good news and bad news. Good news first. We’ve got a property tax relief plan on the presidential primary ballot. Bad news. It is a much leaner version of the one we wanted.
The original plan (passed by the House):
- Preserves Save Our Homes.
- Allows “portability” of accumulated Save Our Homes (SOH) benefits.
- Homeowners may transfer their SOH benefit to a new homestead anywhere in Florida within 2 years of leaving their former homestead
- If “upsizing” to a home of equal or greater just value, the homestead owner can transfer 100% of the SOH benefit to the new homestead, up to a $1 million transferred benefit.
- If “downsizing” to a home with a lower just value, the homestead owner can transfer a SOH benefit that that protects the same percentage of value as it did the former homestead, up to a $1 million benefit.
- Provides a “Guaranteed Save Our Homes Benefit” for all homestead properties, so that all homestead owners can enjoy meaningful SOH savings without having to wait years to get them (does not apply to school tax levies).
- All homeowners will own a SOH benefit that will accumulate on an annual basis and that can be carried with them from home to home (the “accumulated SOH benefit”).
- If a homeowner has a small accumulated SOH benefit (like most recent homebuyers or new homestead buyers) they will receive a guaranteed exemption equal to 40% (or 100% for low-income seniors) of the county’s median just value for homesteads.
- This is called the “Guaranteed SOH Benefit.” The Guaranteed SOH Benefit applies to home value above $50,000.
- Along with using the county median home value approach, this will minimize the impact on small cities and counties. The homeowner will continue to build an accumulated SOH benefit. Once the accumulated SOH benefit is greater than the guaranteed benefit, the homeowner will receive the accumulated SOH benefit.
- Provides a 5% assessment cap for all non-homestead and commercial properties in Florida to guarantee property tax predictability and protection for all property owners.
- Non-commercial properties will be reassessed at change of ownership.
- Non-homestead properties will be reassessed when the property undergoes a substantial modification or change of use.
- Creates a new Tangible Personal Property Exemption of $25,000.
- Provides for limitations on assessed values of properties used for affordable housing and working waterfronts (does not apply to school tax levies).
- Instills accountability for all local property appraisers by requiring every appraiser to be elected.
The Senate passed their amended version of the property tax reform bill at the end of the day Monday, the day of the deadline to get it on the January ballot. The official release as from Florida District 6 Representative Jimmy Patronis:
As you know, providing meaningful property tax relief to Floridians has been one of my top priorities this year.
When the House started fighting for property tax relief over ten months ago, we realized this issue was one of the most important issues we would face. We have worked hard to help make Florida affordable again for homeowners, families and small businesses. We understand the need to provide tax relief and re-energize our economy in order to return Florida to its role as a national economic leader.
Last week the House passed a broad, bi-partisan consensus property tax relief plan 108-2. The elements of the plan we passed were meaningful, balanced and returned some fairness and equity to Florida’s property tax system.
Sadly, the Senate rejected that plan, passed a plan with much less savings, and left us with no other option on the last day of the special session. This plan was the most meaningful tax relief plan the Senate was willing to pass, and they made it clear to us it was their final offer, take it or leave it.
The reality of the legislative process requires agreement from both the House and the Senate. The House has a long history of wanting to provide more meaningful tax relief. We have a record that demonstrates our continued commitment to providing greater relief. The House is willing to do more if given the opportunity, but the Senate has not given us that option.
Sadly, if Floridians are to have a chance to vote for property tax relief in January, this plan is the only option.
Let me be clear, there are some positive elements for taxpayers in this package – things that Floridians have told us they wanted and the Governor campaigned on:
* Expanding the Homestead Exemption: Every homeowner will see a larger Homestead Exemption on their non-school taxes. This will result in savings for every homestead property owner in the state.
* Full Portability: A universally agreed upon aspect of the plan. Almost every Florida homeowner will now be able to carry their full current Save Our Homes savings with them to a new home. Floridians will no longer be trapped in their homes and will be able to afford to move again. This is a major step forward for Floridians.
* Cap on Assessments for Non-Homesteaded Properties: Just a week ago, the Senate was saying “NO” to any cap on non-homesteaded and business properties. Florida property owners who have seen their property assessments double and triple in a single year will now benefit from a cap on at least some of their property assessments for non-education taxes.
The bottom line, however, is the Senate plan passed today does not go nearly far enough. The people of Florida deserve more relief and we believe our partners in this process have missed a major opportunity to provide truly meaningful relief to all Floridians and to reinvigorate our state’s economy.
But this is not the end of the debate to reduce property taxes.
Our dedication to fighting for property tax relief continues. We will not lose sight of the fact that these tax cuts are a small step toward getting Florida’s economy back on track. It’s the people’s money, and we will keep fighting to let them keep more of it.
I encourage you to stay engaged on this issue and to continue communicating with your elected officials on the issues important to you.