The Florida Amendment Series: Amendment 1
Bottom Line: This is the first in a twelve-part series covering Florida’s proposed constitutional amendments. Amendments can be confusing enough to understand but furthering the confusion, while there were originally thirteen amendments scheduled for November’s ballot, a court ruling knocked the 8th off of the ballot. For that reason, you’ll see amendments 1 through 7 and 9 through 13. Each proposed amendment requires a minimum of 60% support to pass. Here’s how it will appear on the ballot:
No. 1 Constitutional Amendment
BALLOT TITLE: Increased Homestead Property Tax Exemption
BALLOT SUMMARY: Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to increase the homestead exemption by exempting the assessed valuation of homestead property greater than $100,000 and up to $125,000 for all levies other than school district levies. The amendment shall take effect January 1, 2019.
Like all amendments the verbiage on the ballot will be wordy and potentially confusing. Here’s what would change if passed...
Amendment one would expand the two existing homestead exemptions which total $50,000 of the first $75,000 of property assessed value (meaning you only have to pay taxes on $25k of the first $75k in value). The expansion would be for an additional $25,000 exception on property value up to $125,000. In other words, if this passes $75,000 of the first $125,000 of property value will be exempt from property taxes. Notably as cited in the ballot summary, school assessments aren’t exempt (not impacted) if this passes.
Final Thoughts: The estimated year one savings on property taxes would be $645 million statewide. Clearly, you’re not going to have that kind of revenue opportunity go away without opposition and that’s very much the case. Virtually every local government is opposed to this amendment. Some local governments have promised tax increases to offset the impact of this Amendment should it pass. Some have gone so far as to actually already passed mileage rate increases with the expectation that it will pass.
As for my thoughts... I take a hard line with property taxes. I think they’re the most repressive of any existing tax and oppose them generally. I principally don’t believe the roof over one’s head should be an ongoing taxable event. I believe that all governments, including local, should seek revenue from other sources. I understand that many local governments will likely take action to raise taxes rather than attempt to act with more fiscal restraint and discipline. As a matter of principal, I support all efforts to limit, or eliminate any taxation on homesteaded property which is why I’ll be voting in favor of Amendment 1.