Florida Property Tax Reform

Posted date : Jun 30, 2006.Back to list

As any property owner in the state of Florida is aware, non-full-time residents pay a disproportionate rate of property taxes versus their full-time resident neighbours due to Florida's Homestead Act and the "save our homes" constitutional amendment.

As Florida does not have a state income tax, there is considerably more pressure put on property taxes to raise revenue for key government services which are primarily the responsibility of county governments.

Florida does permit municipalities to set the taxable value of properties at different levels for permanent and seasonal residents. Increasingly, those counties are passing along the costs to the snowbirds that are ineligible to vote.

There have been cases of snowbirds paying property taxes 10 times as high as those of permanent residents living nearby.

Florida's two-tier system is rooted partly in a "homestead" exemption that dates back many years. The exemption gives permanent residents of the state an automatic $25,000 reduction in the assessed value of their principal residence.

In addition, an amendment to the state constitution that went into effect in 1995 – "Save Our Homes" – caps the annual increase in assessed property values and taxes at 3 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. That too applies only to the principal residences of permanent Florida residents.

The CSA has been lobbying Governor Jeb Bush to look into this situation for some time now and we are pleased to report things are starting to happen. One month ago, CSA president Gerry Brissenden, contacted the governor once again asking him to revisit this matter.

On Thursday June 22, 2006 Governor Bush signed an Executive Order creating a committee to examine how property taxes are assessed and later used throughout Florida.
  • The committee will consist of 15 members, all of whom will be appointed by the governor, and will be charged with looking at:
  • the consequences of current property tax exemptions and assessment differentials
  • the appropriateness, affordability and economic consequences of property taxation levels in the state alternative means of taxation
Governor Bush has strongly stressed that the committee take into consideration the principle of EQUITY – the system should treat similarly situated taxpayers similarly.

Governor Bush has said he wants the committee to meet as early as August 15, 2006 and file its first report by December. He then said he expects a final report to be issued a year later, at the end of 2007.

It is encouraging to see that the association's lobbying efforts south of the border are starting to pay off.

Michael MacKenzie
Research and Communications Officer
Canadian Snowbird Association
(416) 441-7005

Related links
French Version