Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Florida Double Homestead Exemption is really Double-ish

After months of back and forth like they do best, the Florida House and Senate came to a compromise on a new property tax plan to send to voters on January 29th.

And there's nothing like waiting until the last minute. The plan had to be approved by both the House and Senate by the end of October 29 (90 days out from the special election). They made it by a couple of hours.

Here are the basics that could impact homeowners if the bill passes in January:

(Not Quite) Double homestead exemption: Homestead property owners will get a second $25,000 exemption on the assessed value on the value of their homes over $50,000. BUT, because this doesn't apply to school taxes (and because school taxes account for nearly 1/3 of the tax bill) the net result is closer to an additional $16,000 exemption.

Every politician I've heard touting this plan keeps saying "double" because it sounds so good...but its NOT double! Not saying voters should reject it, just calling a spade a spade.

This was one of the key issues that politicians and real estate agents *think* is really going to spark the Florida housing market. Homesteaders will be able to take up to $500,000 of Save Our Homes protections to a new home purchase. If you are downsizing you can take a pro-rated portion of the tax protections.

While some folks will now be able to downsize their homes as well as their tax bill, I don't see this being the boost to the housing market that some would hope.

Assessment cap for non-homestead property: Assessments would increase no more than 10 percent each year on non-homestead property.

This could have been the boost the Florida housing market needed. The original plan was to cap this at 5% but that didn't get accomplished. The fact that people who buy homes in Florida to enjoy as second homes, not primary residences and therefore unable to Homestead, don't have better protection than this, simply means that places like the Carolinas, Georgia, and Tennessee will continue to siphon off lots of the boomers that originally had their sights set on Florida.