Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission

Winter 2007 CSANews Issue 65  |  Posted date : May 22, 2008.Back to list

When Jeb Bush was governor of the state of Florida, he appointed a commission to review the property tax situation and make a report to the legislature. That commission held hearings around the state of Florida, and the Canadian Snowbird Association submitted a brief to the commission at its hearing in Tampa. CSA president Gerry Brissenden's presentation was well-received, and it was hoped that constructive reform would take place.

However, through both the regular session of the legislature and a special session to deal particularly with property tax reform, there has not been a lot of relief proposed for the non-resident property owner. There are proposals for increasing the homestead exemption, and making the exemption portable in the event of selling a property and purchasing another, but this is of no help to the non-resident.

In 1988 in Florida, by a constitutional amendment, a 25-member commission was established called The Taxation and Budget Reform Commission. They met for the first time in 1990, and are scheduled to meet every 20 years after the 1988 starting year. This group can draft suggestions and send them to the legislature, prepare its own legislation for consideration, or draft a constitutional amendment. With a two-thirds vote, it can send a constitutional amendment to be placed on the November 2008 ballot.

A hearing of this commission was held in Tampa, Florida on October 3, and a submission was made to the commission on behalf of the Canadian Snowbird Association by legal counsel Wallace Weylie. He pointed out the shocking disparity between the taxes paid by non-residents and by those entitled to homestead exemption, and the detrimental effect that this is having on the state's tourism industry. Considering the millions of dollars brought to the state by winter residents, it is imperative that something be done to remedy the situation. Other speakers echoed these remarks, and were very supportive.

We are waiting to see what comes of the deliberations of this commission. A proposed amendment to the constitution must be submitted to the Secretary of State by May 8 in order for it to be on the November ballot. The membership of the commission is comprised of 11 appointed by the governor, seven appointed by the Senate president and seven appointed by the Speaker of the House. There are also four non-voting members who are from the legislature. Thus, the Senate and House each have representatives. Time will tell.

Pic 1: CSA Legal Counsel Wallace Weylie with Allan Bense, Chairman of the Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission