September 23, 2012

Florida Voters To Decide 5 Amendments That Would Cut $1.3 Billion In Local Government Taxes

by Dara Kam, The Palm Beach Post: Among the 11 referendum questions put on the Nov. 6 ballot by the Florida Legislature, five give voters the opportunity to put more tax breaks into the state constitution. Like many Americans, Floridians love lower taxes, and even with the 60 percent approval required, the tax breaks are expected to pass easily. . . .

Among the 11 referendum questions put on the Nov. 6 ballot by the Florida Legislature, five give voters the opportunity to put more tax breaks into the state constitution.

Like many Americans, Floridians love lower taxes, and even with the 60 percent approval required, the tax breaks are expected to pass easily.

Only once in recent history have they opted not to reduce taxes, said Daniel Smith, a University of Florida political science professor who studies constitutional amendments and ballot initiatives.

“Other than rejecting a constitutional amendment in 1998 that would have granted tax-exempt status to certain municipal properties and allowed a tangible personal property tax exemption for attachments to mobile homes, Floridians have jumped at opportunity to cut their taxes,” he said.

Two proposed amendments on the ballot would expand tax exemptions directly. Amendment 2 would expand a current homestead exemption for veterans disabled in combat to include those who were not Florida residents when they entered the military. Amendment 10 would expand the tangible personal property tax exemption for businesses from the first $25,000 to the first $50,000 of equipment such as computers, appliances and farm machinery.

Two others would enable either the legislature or local governments to create exemptions. Amendment 9 would let the legislature create a homestead property tax exemption for surviving spouses of veterans or first responders killed in the line of duty. Amendment 11 would give the legislature the power to allow local governments to create a homestead exemption equal to the market value of a home worth less than $250,000 if it has been the residence of a low-income senior for at least 25 years.

And the biggest-ticket item on the ballot, Amendment 4, would save money for first-time home buyers, rental property owners and snowbirds, and it could cut taxes for homestead owners who lose value on their homes.

Amendment 4’s cuts would slash nearly $1.2 billion from local governments’ budgets over three years, compared with an estimated $104 million reduction in taxes over the same period from the other four proposed amendments, according to state economists. . . . Read More

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