On Florida Amendment 4 – Vote yes

First in a series


On November’s ballot, Amendment 4 proposes a number of changes to the Florida Constitution regarding property taxes and values, including:

Providing an additional homestead exemption for new homebuyers, and for those who have not had an exemption for the last three years.

Reducing the maximum assessed value cap on non-homestead properties, decreasing the current 10 percent cap to 5 percent.

Capping the rate of increase in assessed value of property such as rentals and businesses.

And giving the Legislature authority to throw out the Save Our Homes Recapture Rule, which says your property taxes can rise even if the market value has decreased.

When the real-estate boom caused excessive property tax increases, it hit small business and owners of non-homesteaded real estate disproportionately hard. Getting some relief to these folks is way overdue, not only because it’s fair, but because small businesses are substantial job creators for Florida. Renters will also benefit from a lower cap on tax increases, because when the landlord’s tax burden decreases, part of the savings could be passed on to renters.

The downside to this amendment is that it adds additional complexity to the rules applying to homestead exemptions. But it’s a complication that delivers benefits to taxpayers.

Florida TaxWatch forecasts positive economic impacts if this amendment passes. More than 19,400 private-sector jobs would be created during the next 10 years, it estimates. Florida’s gross domestic product would increase by over $1 billion. Personal income would rise an estimated $5.3 billion. Finally, TaxWatch believes additional home sales would increase by an estimated 320,000 to 384,000 from 2013 to 2022.

School property taxes would not be affected.

In spite of what you may hear from local governments, increases in property tax exemptions don’t mean cities will “lose” this money. A 5 percent cap on how much a city can raise your assessment simply limits how much more in property taxes you must pay. Local politicians don’t like to be limited on how much they can tax, but they have the option to increase property tax rates to make up for lost taxes, or they can raise revenues from other sources. And even if local governments don’t raise property tax rates, the healthy growth of property values is projected to increase revenues by about $800 million by 2014-15.

Vote yes on Amendment 4 if you want to increase the personal income of Floridians, grow the state’s GDP and create Florida jobs.


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John R. Smith


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