Reporting David Sutta
MIAMI (CBS4) – This November’s ballot is the longest in South Florida history. Part of that is because there are 11 constitutional amendments, some of which are more than a page long. To add to the length many are not easy to understand.
This week CBS4 is breaking down the amendments to make them easier to understand. This article deals with the four amendments concerning taxes; more than a third of the constitutional amendments have to do with property taxes. All of them ask for permission to reduce or eliminate taxes for certain people.
Amendment 2 affects wounded or disabled veterans over 65 years old. If 60 percent of voters approve the measure these veterans would be allowed to reduce their tax according to the severity of their disability.
Supporters say this would stimulate the real estate market persuading veterans to move to Florida. Opponents such as the League of Women Voters argue it will cost local government too much. The state predicts the measure would cost about $15 million in lost revenue in the first three years.
Amendment 9 provides property tax exemptions for surviving spouses of military veterans killed in combat or first responders killed in the line of duty. First responders would include law enforcement officers, firefighters and paramedics.
If the amendment passes, surviving spouses would have their property tax bills eliminated forever. The Florida legislature has unanimously supported the amendment. The bill would be retroactive for past deaths but could only be applied to future tax payments. The estimated impact on the state tax revenue is $600,000 in year one. The measure is also portable meaning the surviving spouse could sell their home and purchase another one without property paying taxes.
Amendment 10 has to do with the expansion of tangible tax exemption which would be a break for businesses.
Businesses pay tangible taxes on things like equipment, furniture, and tools. Typically the first $25,000 in purchases is exempt. This would allow cities and counties to boost the exemption to $50,000. Supporters believe the tax savings would lead to new jobs and/or investment. Opponents say it will cost Florida $61 million in lost tax revenue in first three years.
The final tax related amendment is number 11 which has to do with homestead exemptions for low income seniors. This would eliminate property taxes entirely for some seniors.
To be eligible their home would have to be worth less than $250,000 and they must have lived there for 25 years or more. The person must also be 65 years or older and make less than $27,030 a year.
Even if approved by voters it would be up to cities and counties to agree to implement it. If every city and county did, the state predicts they would see an $18.5 million dollar revenue loss in first two years.