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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Once ignored, Simmons pushing tax plan

Simmons A month ago, no one paid much attention to Rep. David Simmons and his self-proclaimed silver bullet.

House leaders were moving aggressively with their tax plan so Simmons' idea seemed, at best, quixotic. But now that talks are bogged down, Maitland Republican's proposal is in play. (photo: Tuesday morning, he huddles with lead negotiator Dean Cannon)

Simmons calls it "FASTR," Fair and Simple Tax Relief. It provides a homestead exemption based on the percentage of just value, not a fixed amount. "Once the exemption is based on a percentage of just value, then the exemption is fully portable and totally equal between taxpayers," reads an overview of the plan that was provided to Gov. Charlie Crist and other officials.

For the first $400,000 in value, a home would get a 50 percent reduction, or $200,000, of valuation. The tax savings would be about $4,000. The next $100,000 would be discounted 40 percent, so $240,000 is knocked off. The next $100,000 is discounted 30 percent, or $270,000. By $700,000 and up, the exemption drops another 10 percent. Current homeowners would be grandfathered in but FASTR would kick in when it exceeds SOH benefits. Another option uses different percentages, with the first $100,000 getting a 65 percent exemption.

It remains to be seen how serious the plan will be taken, but House staff did produce "runs," or crunch the county financial impacts.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 1:46pm]


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