TALLAHASSEE — A judge Friday removed from November's ballot a proposed constitutional amendment that would have given an extra property tax break to some homeowners, saying its ballot title and summary are misleading.
Tallahassee Circuit Judge John Cooper said Amendment 3's ballot language did not tell voters that the exemptions were available only on property bought on or after last Jan. 1. He said voters who bought property earlier might think they were eligible.
He also said the summary could lead some voters to think that only new homeowners were eligible, when the measure would have applied to people who have not owned a home for at least eight years.
The Legislature passed the measure last year and it was challenged by the Florida AFL-CIO and Jacksonville resident Brian K. Doyle. Many union members are government employees paid from property taxes that would be cut by the amendment, and Doyle would not have qualified for the tax break.
The amendment would have given those homeowners an additional exemption of at least 25 percent in the first year. It would continue for four more years but be reduced incrementally each of those years.
The purpose was to reduce some of the disparity in taxes paid by recent purchasers and longtime homeowners who get more benefit from the Save Our Homes Amendment. That 1992 constitutional provision caps annual assessment increases at 3 percent for owners of primary homes, also known as homesteads.
The disparity only increased after voters approved another tax relief amendment in 2008 that lets homeowners take at least part of their Save Our Homes benefits with them when they move.
Another provision in Amendment 3 would have lowered a cap on annual assessment increases for businesses and other nonhomestead properties from 10 percent to 5 percent.