Mike Fasano: You deserve a tax break

Published: Sunday, January 20, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 19, 2008 at 4:45 p.m.

John Adams said, "Property is surely a right of mankind as real as liberty. His words reflect the principles that have guided the Florida Legislature, Governor Crist and the taxpayers of Florida through the process of bringing property tax relief to the people of our state.

The right to property is essential to the American dream, and when that right is threatened by unexpected, unbearable spikes in property taxes, relief must be provided. The comprehensive constitutional amendment that, if approved by voters on Jan. 29 will provide that relief.

One of the key provisions in the relief package allows homeowners to transfer their Save Our Homes tax benefit to a new home. This policy, called portability, will spark Florida's economy with only a minimal impact on local government.

When one family downsizes into a smaller home that better meets their needs, thanks to portability, another family can afford to move into that home. This policy eliminates the "lock-in effect," which has prevented homeowners - often seniors or empty nesters - from moving into smaller homes as their needs or lifestyles changed.

Portability gives Floridians the freedom to choose where to live and what sort of home to buy based on the needs of their families, not on a failed tax policy. And, the homeowner will continue to enjoy the Save Our Homes 3 percent cap.

The amendment also doubles the homestead exemption, providing an additional $25,000 exemption for the value of homestead property above $50,000 (excluding school taxes). This will allow the tax benefit to keep pace with the increased price of housing.

More than 94 percent of Florida homeowners will enjoy tax relief under the increased exemption. Once approved by the voters, this benefit will provide immediate relief on your next tax bill and not two or three years from now.

The proposed constitutional amendment creates a new exemption from taxes on tangible personal property of $25,000 and eliminates the need for businesses and owners of manufactured homes to file a return if they have less than $25,000 in tangible personal property. This change will exempt over 1 million Floridians from this tax, out of a total of 1.2 million who currently pay it.

Many Floridians actually spent more money complying with related paperwork than they owed in tangible taxes. This proposed amendment will cut away that red tape for many of our seniors residing in manufactured communities from ever paying this tax again.

Small business owners, second home owners, renters, and others will benefit from the fourth component of the Legislature's tax relief plan, which places a 10 percent cap on assessments of non-homestead properties. Most non-homestead property owners have experienced "sticker shock" when looking at their tax bills in recent years. This cap provides predictability for all properties in Florida. No longer will property owners have to fear unexpected, large assessment spikes.

This amendment reflects the ideas of so many concerned voters across Florida. Now the choice is exactly where it should be - in your hands. On Jan. 29, you the voter will have the opportunity to approve this proposed amendment and provide much-needed property tax relief in our state.

The American dream is alive and well in Florida, and this Constitutional Amendment will ensure that Floridians can continue making that dream a reality in their own lives. Please vote yes on Jan. 29.

State Sen. Mike Fasano is chair of the Vote Yes on 1 - Save our Homes Now Committee

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