Update on Florida Snowbirds’ Tax Crisis - CSANews, Spring 2008

Posted date : Jul 22, 2008.Back to list

Bird talk - Le Jaseur
Kudos to Peter Benedek for his article about Florida’s outrageous property tax system. He gave us all a real perspective of snowbirds continually being fleeced and financially “slammed into the boards,” as well as what we can expect in the future, which is not a very pleasant outlook. He also stated that “the greatest beneficiaries of the Save Our Homes (S.O.H.) amendment are some of the wealthiest longtime Florida residents.” While this statement is correct, it is not only longtime legitimate Florida residents who are the beneficiaries of this biased legislation. By far the most glaring injustice occurs in counties where thousands of Florida’s well-to-do and wealthiest (homesteaders but in reality, still non-resident snowbirds) are located. Their homes range the full spectrum from moderate values to many millions of dollars. Few of these illusory homesteaders live in Florida on a fulltime basis. They shutter their condos and mansions before heading north. Because of recently becoming homesteaded since S.O.H. came into effect, they are now exempt from paying tens of millions of tax dollars every year. Unfortunately, S.O.H. encourages such fraudulent homesteading, while local or state governments do little to enforce rules or uncover any wrongdoing. Well-known stock and security analysts continually advertise and sponsor seminars employing clever strategies about how to easily establish Florida residency. S.O.H. offers huge incentives to use and cheat the system, and those in the know surely take full advantage. The bottom line – for obvious financial benefits, many U.S. homeowners from other states have become Florida residents, even though they only live there on a part-time basis. That change for Canadians is possible, but not easy without giving up medical and other benefits as well as incurring substantial legal fees. 

Response:
Ed: There are some ridiculous rules and regulations regarding these issues. My next-door neighbour lives in Chicago, but is a “resident” of Florida for tax purposes – his company is, too. The other interesting thing is that, in the event of bankruptcy, your Florida home cannot be seized by creditors. Lots of very “interesting” people live in multimillion-dollar homes in Florida and that is one of the reasons that more than three million new residents settled in Florida over the past 10 years (there are other reasons, of course). That number is greater than the entire population of the state in 1950.

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