Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Business

State ballot stuffed with property tax breaks for veterans, low-income seniors

RECOMMENDED READING


TALLAHASSEE — Three of the constitutional amendments voters will decide on next month achieved rare bipartisan consensus prior to landing on the contentious 2012 ballot.

Amendments 2, 9 and 11 — which offer tax breaks for disabled veterans, low-income senior citizens, and the spouses of veterans and first responders killed in the line of duty — all received unanimous approval in the Legislature.

The relatively low-impact proposals have not received the kind of opposition generated by more controversial amendments, as interest groups have focused on the larger tax cuts and hot-button social issues on this year's lengthy ballot.

The amendments — which require 60-percent of the vote — have perhaps the strongest chance of passing of any of the 11 proposals on the 2012 ballot.

Amendment 11, which passed the Legislature with a 156-to-0 vote margin, would slash the property taxes paid by some low-income senior citizens by a total of $9.4 million per year.

To qualify, the homeowner would have to be 65 years old, have lived in the home for more than 25 years and have an income of less than about $27,000.

Amendment 9 offers a property tax cut for the spouses of military personnel or first responders killed in the line of duty. If approved, it would allow local governments to eliminate most property taxes for these homeowners. Statewide, Amendment 9's annual impact would only be about $600,000, and no legislator voted against the proposal during this year's legislative session.

Amendment 2 would expand the current property tax cut for disabled veterans, allowing those who move to Florida after their injury to benefit from the tax break. Current law — which applies only to those who were already living in Florida at the time of their combat injury — benefits about 1,200 people. Expanding the tax break could add another 74,000 beneficiaries, according to state estimates. That could cost local governments about $7.6 million per year in reduced property taxes, though proponents say it will attract more homebuyers to the state.

A Suffolk University poll released last week found that 75 percent of voters supported the amendment to reduce property taxes for disabled veterans.

Still, some warn that the targeted tax breaks on this year's ballot would force other homeowners to pick up the tab.

"To the extent local governments increase millage rates to make up for the lost taxable value, these savings will be transferred to other property taxpayers," according to an analysis by Florida TaxWatch, a nonprofit group that has described the state's tax system as "convoluted and inequitable."

The Florida League of Cities, an advocacy group that generally opposes cuts to government revenue, has opted not to weigh in on amendments 2, 9 and 11. Instead, the group is directing its full attention to defeating Amendment 4, a wide-sweeping property tax proposal that could gut government revenue by hundreds of millions of dollars.

Considered the amendment with the biggest impact on property taxes, Amendment 4 would cost local governments an estimated $1 billion after three years. Among other things, it would reduce the cap on property tax assessments for non-homesteaded properties from 10 percent to 5 percent per year. Some have referred to it as the Save-Our-Second-Homes Amendment.

Comments
A new threat this shopping season: toys that can spy on kids

A new threat this shopping season: toys that can spy on kids

ST. PETERSBURG — Not all sinister toys are as obvious as a Chucky doll. Many present more subtle threats — choking hazards, high lead content, privacy concerns. And as the biggest shopping season of the year kicks off, consumer advocates are urging s...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Indian automaker plant is latest sign of Detroit comeback

Indian automaker plant is latest sign of Detroit comeback

It has been years since Detroit, birthplace of the American auto industry, was a steady producer of the manufacturing jobs that defined it as the Motor City. But its comeback is entering a new phase.The latest milestone came this week, with the annou...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Big Tobacco’s anti-smoking ads begin after decade of delay

Big Tobacco’s anti-smoking ads begin after decade of delay

Associated PressWASHINGTON — Decades after they were banned from the airwaves, Big Tobacco companies return to prime-time television this weekend — but not by choice. Under court order, the industry for the first time will be forced to advertise the ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Ybor ’s first public school, long gone, still has a story to tell about district’s history

Ybor ’s first public school, long gone, still has a story to tell about district’s history

TAMPAIt’s been more than a century since Ybor City’s first public school was demolished on the plot of land now identified as 1311 E Eighth Ave.For the past 22 years, the popular concert venue New World Brewery took up the space and one next door. No...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Barricades reinforce security for holiday events on St. Petersburg’s downtown waterfront

Barricades reinforce security for holiday events on St. Petersburg’s downtown waterfront

ST. PETERSBURG — World and national tragedies are changing the city’s approach to security for special events at North Straub Park.With the approach of the holidays, concrete barricades have been erected at a section of the park’s perimeter, where Fo...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Copa Airlines to fly daily nonstop from Tampa to Panama next summer

Copa Airlines to fly daily nonstop from Tampa to Panama next summer

TAMPA — Panama’s Copa Airlines, which four years ago became the first airline to offer service between Panama and Tampa Bay, said it is increasing its nonstop service between Tampa International Airport and Panama City to daily flights starting in Ju...
Published: 11/21/17
Irma did not stop tourists from setting record visits to Florida so far in 2017

Irma did not stop tourists from setting record visits to Florida so far in 2017

Despite Hurricane Irma, Florida hit another record high number in tourists visiting the state in the first nine months of this year, according to figures released this week.Visit Florida, the state’s tourism bureau, said 88.2 million visitors came to...
Published: 11/21/17
FCC chairman unveils proposal to repeal net neutrality

FCC chairman unveils proposal to repeal net neutrality

WASHINGTON — Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai on Tuesday followed through on his pledge to repeal 2015 regulations designed to ensure that internet service providers treat all online content and apps equally, setting up a showdown ...
Published: 11/21/17
Crime Stoppers, Straz Foundation still working out Seminole Heights reward money

Crime Stoppers, Straz Foundation still working out Seminole Heights reward money

TAMPA — You can collect $110,000 in reward money for information leading to an arrest in the Seminole Heights killings, but for now you’ll have to make two stops.The David A. Straz Foundation announced Monday it would contribute $10,000 to a reward f...
Published: 11/21/17
Hurricane Irma hurt some Tampa Bay home sales even in October

Hurricane Irma hurt some Tampa Bay home sales even in October

Pinellas County home sales took another hurricane-related hit in October as the rest of the Tampa Bay area bounced back from Hurricane Irma.But while prices in all four counties rose once again, the rate of increase continues to slow. Hillsborough’s...
Published: 11/20/17
Updated: 11/21/17