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Florida House Approves Ballot to Lower Property Taxes

The Florida state house has approved a ballot that will give Florida voters the option to lower taxes on commercial properties.  If the Florida residents vote in favor of the constitutional amendment, the new legislation would reduce annual growth in assessed value from 10 percent to five percent or less.

Palm Beach property

Additionally, first time home buyers would receive a tax break for 50 percent of the median homestead property value.  It would also repeal the recapture rule, which stated that assessed property values would increase even if the property’s market value decreased.  For homeowners, this means that their property taxes have continued to increase even as their home values plummeted.

Now that the House has approved the ballot with a 105-11 vote, the Senate must approve it by 60 percent or more.  Since both the House and Senate are controlled by Republicans in Florida, they do not anticipate any problems getting it passed.  There will also be a second vote to decide whether to put the question on the 2012 presidential primary ballot, requiring a 75 percent approval from both chambers.

"This is the jobs vehicle that you've heard discussed," said the sponsor, Rep. Chris Dorworth, R-Lake Mary. "When (businesses) can shift tax payments to new capital, you're going to get jobs."

Legislators hope this will jump-start the Florida economy, but opponents of the amendment say it will increase disparities in taxes that already exist because of the 1992 Save Our Homes amendment.  Those opposed include the Florida Association of Counties, which says it will decrease property tax revenues by $172.7 million in 2013.

Tavis J. Hampton

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