Florida voters to decide property tax breaks

Published: September 15, 2022 6:38 AM EDT
Credit: WINK News.

As they elect a governor, a U.S. senator and numerous state and local officials, Florida voters in November will also decide whether to approve two property-tax measures.

Lawmakers placed the proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot.

One of those measures, which will appear on the ballot as Amendment 1, would prevent properties’ assessed values from going up because of improvements aimed at combating flooding. The other proposed tax break, which will appear as Amendment 3, would expand the homestead property-tax exemption for teachers, first responders and military members.

Here are snapshots of the proposals:

AMENDMENT 1

Amendment 1, part of efforts to address the effects of rising sea levels and climate change, is aimed largely at helping property owners who elevate all or parts of their homes.

If approved by voters, such improvements would not be considered in determining assessed values. Elevation work would require meeting National Flood Insurance Program and Florida Building Code standards.

A 2021 Senate staff analysis said the proposed constitutional amendment would reduce local government property-tax revenues by $5.8 million during the 2023-2024 fiscal year, with the amount growing to $25.1 million annually. The estimate was made after Florida property owners in the prior 20 years made more than 4.85 million flood-damage claims through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

When pitching the proposal, Rep. Linda Chaney, R-St. Pete Beach said homeowners taking proactive measures against rising seas “should not only be rewarded, but they should be incentivized.”

AMENDMENT 3

With legislative supporters saying it would help address rising housing costs, Amendment 3 would increase the homestead exemption for teachers, law-enforcement officers, correctional officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, child-welfare services professionals, and active-duty members of the military and Florida National Guard.

The change, if passed, is projected to save $80.9 million for the targeted property owners next fiscal year, with the annual savings growing to $93.6 million in five years.

During this year’s legislative session, the Florida Association of Counties opposed the proposal, saying it could shift more of the tax burden to businesses and to renters, who would include members of the targeted professions. However, the association hasn’t taken a position on the amendment in the November election.

Sen. Bobby Powell, D-West Palm Beach, cast the only vote against the measure in the Legislature, arguing in March that lawmakers should focus first on affordable-housing problems as prices and rents soar.

“I am of the belief that the priority at this point should be to figure out how we can get police and firefighters and teachers into a home, whether it be first-time homebuyers, whatever it be, we need to figure out how to get them into homes,” Powell said.

Under current law, homeowners can qualify for homestead exemptions on the first $25,000 of the appraised value of a property. They also can qualify for $25,000 homestead exemptions on the value between $50,000 and $75,000. Any higher property value is taxable.

Under the proposal, homeowners in the targeted professions could receive an additional $50,000 exemption, which would apply to the property value between $100,000 and $150,000.

The current exemption for the value between $50,000 and $75,000 doesn’t apply to property taxes collected for school districts, and neither would the proposed amendment.