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Property Tax Break Amendment Appears Headed To Voters

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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – The Florida Legislature is poised to approve a proposed constitutional amendment to slash in half property tax assessment increase caps for first-time home buyers, businesses, landlords and investors. Tuesday, the Florida  Senate  the House version (HJR 381)  for their own and is in position to vote on it Wednesday.

“This will help non-homestead properties, particularly small business men and women … when values start to rise,” said Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey. The House on Monday approved the property tax changes, which lower the current cap on non-homestead properties from 10 percent to 5 percent, in effect slowing tax increases for property owners.

That’s great news for taxpayers, but a potential disaster for local governments, who will see already insufficient revenues squeezed even further.

A similar version was passed in 2009 but was thrown out by the courts for confusing language related to the provision on first-time home buyers. Realtors say this time around, it is clear who is considered a first-time home buyer. Some lawmakers questioned how the bill impacts fiscally constrained counties that already struggle to fund services. Fasano said there is a provision in the bill to plug any losses these counties face due to the passage of the proposed constitutional amendment with state dollars.

The Florida Realtors have lobbied hard for the constitutional amendment, but the cities and counties oppose it because it will cause them to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue.

If this measure passes, voters would still have to approve it before it would take effect.

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