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Guest Column

How tax burden will lighten

Published July 1, 2007


Many people have been asking me questions about property tax reform that the Florida Legislature passed on June 14.

I want to let you know that during the special session I supported a fair and reasonable tax relief proposal, a tax cut designed to save Florida's property owners nearly $32-billion over the next five years. The savings will come in two phases: Phase I this year, and Phase II will require voter approval of a constitutional amendment in 2008.

Phase I: We passed an immediate tax relief package of more than $15-billion, which does not require voter approval. This means real savings on your next property tax bill, this year.

With the governor's signature:

- Property taxes will be rolled back to last year's level and will be cut further based on a particular county's or city's record of taxing and spending. For Pinellas County government, that means an additional cut of 7 percent, and for Pasco County government an additional cut of 3 percent. Homesteaded property owners, second-home owners, snowbirds, and owners of rental, commercial and industrial properties will all receive tax savings.

- All local governments (except school districts) will be required to cap their annual property tax revenue growth. Property tax revenue will be allowed to grow no faster than the growth rate of Floridians' personal income and the population growth of the state.

- The revenue cap creates unprecedented protections for all Florida properties, especially commercial properties and nonhomestead residential properties, which currently have no protection.

- All taxpayers will be protected by making it harder for local governments to raise property taxes in the future.

This legislation will lead to immediate relief for Florida's homeowners, second-home owners and commercial property owners. It also provides a cap so taxes are predictable and affordable in the future.

Phase II: On Jan. 29, voters will be given the opportunity to vote on how much they want to be taxed on their homes. If 60 percent of Florida's voters approve the constitutional amendment:

- Property taxes will be reduced by $16-billion over five years. The average homestead property owner will be able to save 44 percent, or $1, 306, on his property tax bill.

- Homeowners will have the choice of the current Save Our Homes system or moving to a new system of "super homestead exemptions" based on the value of their home.

- These super homestead exemptions will create portability for homeowners who would otherwise lose significant tax savings when they move.

- No homeowners would have to leave the current Save Our Homes tax system unless they choose. If they wish, they can remain in that system as long as they own their current home.

- A new $25, 000 Tangible Personal Property tax exemption for businesses will also be created, exempting 1-million small businesses from having to pay the tax. After next year, taxpayers would no longer be required to file returns for the TPP tax.

- Targeted tax relief will also be offered for low-income seniors, affordable housing and working waterfronts.

I hope this information assists you in understanding the property tax reform legislation and encourages you to vote on Jan. 29.

State Rep. Tom Anderson, a Dunedin Republican, represents District 45, which includes parts of northwest Pinellas and southwest Pasco.

[Last modified July 1, 2007, 00:53:55]

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