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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Senate Tax Plan Change



Sen. Daniel Webster plans to offer an amendment later this morning to the property tax plan proposal.

In the original property tax proposal, the bulk of the tax savings (and cuts) came from a ballot initiative that -- if approved by 60 percent of voters -- would move homesteaded homeowners into a new homestead exemption (which exempts 75 percent of the first $200,000 of value and then another 15 percent of the next $300,000) in lieu of Save Our Homes, depending on which plan gave them the larger tax cut. But once the ballot initiative passed, homesteaders wouldn't have gotten a choice as to which plan they got put in.

Critics of the plan pointed out that while the new homestead exemption benefits most homesteaders today and now, many of the same homesteaders actually end up losing money and paying more in taxes over the long run. That's because these homesteaders lose their Save Our Homes cap, which is a pretty good deal in the long-term, because it caps the appreciation of taxable value at 3 percent each year.

Under the Webster amendment, people could choose which plan they wanted to be in. That means they could choose between bigger savings now or bigger savings in the long term.

It's unclear at this point, how this change would impact the overall tax cut numbers. But, it's the first and only major policy change to the property tax plan that has appeared all week, and it looks as though it's going to be seriously considered.

UPDATE: More details.

This choice is only for existing homesteaders in their current house. If you move (or die), you lose Save Our Homes (it can't be passed on to heirs).  But the default is, you keep Save Our Homes, unless you elect to choose the new exemption. But once you choose the new exemption, you've chosen it forever; you can't go back to Save Our Homes.

Minority Leader Sen. Steve Geller is blasting the Webster amendment, because it changes a lot, including overall tax cut numbers, and it was sprung on the Democrats with no discussion.

The amendment appears to shore up Senate Republican support for the constitutional amendment.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 2:28pm]


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