Thursday, November 22, 2007

A new proposal could go before voters in November 2008, sponsored by an umbrella group formed by several organizations which were developing different plans, but are uniting their efforts.
In essence, the plan proposes a general cap of 1.35% on the taxable value of any real estate property, as its yearly property tax.
This coalition must be able to collect around 611,000 voters’signatures by the end of January 2008
The tax cap would also apply to commercial properties and non-homestead homes such as those owned by ‘snowbirds’. It would preserve the ‘Save our Homes’ provision to cap at 3% per year any increase in the assessment of homestead homes, as well as the present homestead exemption.
I tend to like it, even though it might lack somehow to address all issues:

- It does not address the ‘portability’ of ‘Save our Homes’, which means that homeowners could carry these benefits when they upgrade our downgrade for their present home. This is becoming a key factor in reviving the real estate market.

- Since it is still linked to the actual value of a home, there is no protection if we should face again a violent raise in property value, as was the case during the “boom” period of 2000-2005. It limits the abilities of local government to raise millage percentages by limiting property tax to 1.35% of taxable value. This is a very effective short-term solution, but would fail to protect us if another ‘boom’ period raises the assessed value of our homes above inflation levels. A provision that future assessments increases should not exceed the official inflation rate could address this issue and avoid eventual spiraling “assessed values”. That would again put as in the sad situation our real estate market is living today.

However, the proposal would be a great step in the right direction.

Here is the text of the proposal:

Ballot Summary
Ballot Title: 1.35% property tax cap, unless voter approved

Provides that the total property tax on any parcel of real property shall never exceed 1.35% of the highest taxable value of the property. This property tax limit shall apply to all property taxes except property taxes approved by voters. Distribution of revenue from parcels that have reached the 1.35% limit shall be determined by general law. Does not amend Save Our Homes, the Homestead Exemption, or any other exemption.
Full Text of the Proposed Amendment

Article VII, Section 9 of the State Constitution is amended by adding a new Paragraph (c) to read:

SECTION 9. Local taxes.
(c) Notwithstanding any other provision contained in this Constitution, the maximum amount of all ad valorem taxes collected by counties, school districts, municipalities, and special districts on any parcel of real property shall not, when combined, exceed 1.35% of the parcel’s highest taxable value. The term “taxable value” refers to the value of real property to which millage rates are applied. The Legislature shall, by general law, provide for the distribution of tax revenues derived from parcels for which the combined ad valorem tax levies exceed 1.35% of the parcel’s highest taxable value. This subsection does not apply to ad valorem taxes levied for the payment of bonds issued pursuant to Section 12 of this Article or levied for periods not longer than two years when authorized by a vote of the electors.

The proposal can be reviewed at

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