Florida Homesteaders Exemption

Spring 2007 CSANews Issue 62  |   Posted date : Jun 06, 2007.Back to list

Bird talk - Le Jaseur
Dear Bird Talk:

I'm one of the many snowbirds that own a small one-bedroom condo (600 sq. ft.) in Pinellas County, Treasure Island Florida. In the year 2005 our taxes were increased by a staggering 142 % or $1622.12. Now for the year 2006 the proposed taxes, if adopted, will increase our taxes another 34 % or $933.38 for a total of $3698.64. In the space of two years our taxes could increase by 176 %. Do you think this is fair?

To paraphrase Mr. S. Margles, (CSA issue 60, fall 2006) the contentious issue is the Florida Homesteaders exemption which caps any real estate hike to 3 percent per annum. To make up for the shortfall, northerners who own vacation property in Florida pay much more that their fair share.

It is one thing to pay more than our fair share; it is another thing knowing that many American Northerners, who own vacation property in Florida, apply for the homestead exemption (knowing darn well that they have no intention of making Florida their permanent residence). They do so only to reap the benefits. They also spend less than six months in Florida.

Again, it's the Canadian or non-American who own vacation property in Florida who is obliged to make up the difference.

It is too bad, because Canadians and non-Americans contribute generously to the Florida economy.

I've taken the time to write to all the commissioners of Pinellas County as well as Governor Jeb Bush and the St. Petersburg Times, concerning this serious tax discrepancy that exists in Florida.

The State and local politicians must attempt to find an equitable solution to the taxation problem that would satisfy both parties. To do otherwise will result in the ruination of many lives. Lives of people who, for the most part, are in their retirement years.

With the obvious groundswell of discontent over the Florida taxation system. It's too bad we cannot mobilize a formidable task force through the CSA that would address our concerns to the Governor's 15-member committee that was formed to review the taxation system and make recommendations.

Yours truly,
R. Swailes


Response:
You’re absolutely right, it’s not fair, and you’re not alone in this predicament. On April 26 Governor Crist announced his recommendations for Property Tax Reform in Florida. Unfortunately, the changes only bring relief to “Homesteaders” and business owners. Second-home owners and non-residents don’t get any breaks from Governor Crist’s reforms and may even be faced with more property tax increases to supplement the further shortfall created by the Governor’s reforms. Our greatest challenge in finding a solution to this problem is that any changes to Florida property tax legislation have to be approved by the residents of Florida in a vote. Despite any sympathy they may have for the taxation of non-residents, it is unlikely that they will vote to increase their own property taxes to lower the taxes payable for non-residents.

To read Governor Crist’s press release please visit:
http://www.flgov.com/release/8916

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