Amendment 4: Property Tax Limitation; Property Value Decline ...
Published: Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 12:54 a.m.
A look at the constitutional amendments on the Nov. 6 ballot from the League of Women Voters of Florida Education Fund:
Amendment 4: Property Tax Limitation; Property Value Decline; Reduction for Non-Homestead Assessment Increases; Delay of Scheduled Repeal
Synopsis: This proposal would extend tax breaks to property owners and to first-time homebuyers. If passed, it would: 1) prevent the assessed value of homesteaded and specified non-homesteaded properties from increasing if the market value of that property decreases compared to the previous year. This would allow the Legislature to eliminate a provision in the current law known as “recapture,” which can cause the taxable value of a property to rise even if its market value drops; 2) reduce from 10 percent to 5 percent the cap on annual increases in the assessments of specified non-homesteaded properties such as residential rental property, seasonal homes and commercial property; 3) authorize a homestead exemption to first-time homebuyers or to buyers who have not owned property during the previous three years or longer. The exemption would phase out over five years and be equal to 50 percent of the market value of the property but not greater than the median market value of all homesteaded properties in the county where the property is located; 4) delay until 2013 the scheduled repeal of assessment caps on certain types of non-homesteaded properties. Proponents say the tax breaks will stimulate the housing and commercial real estate markets. They also say it will help property owners in a down economy. Critics say the proposal will hurt cash-strapped school districts, cities and counties already forced to cut services. Total tax revenue losses to local governments and schools over a three-year period have been estimated at nearly $1 billion.
A vote YES on Amendment 4 would:
- Reduce local government revenue by cutting in half the taxable rate on non-homestead property, such as commercial income properties and second homes
- Reduce local government revenue by prohibiting increases in the assessed value of homestead property and certain non-homestead property in any year where the market value of the property decreases
- Reduce local government revenue by extending an additional homestead tax exemption to some first-time homeowners
A vote NO on Amendment 4 would:
- Maintain existing property tax exemptions
- Prevent schools and local governments from losing an estimated $1 billion in property tax revenue over three years
- Not place a limitation on local government revenue in the Florida Constitution where it would be difficult to modify or remove
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