Florida residents and businesses continue to feel the heat from the state's ill-named "Save Our Homes" property tax cap, which restricts the growth in taxable property values to 3 percent a year for all owner-occupied homes. The Bradenton Herald talks to
a Sarasota County Commissioner, Jon Thaxton, who diagnoses the problem expertly:
"Back when 'Save Our Homes' was first proposed, it was sold to the public as a way to help poor little widows who were fighting to keep their $65,000 homes that they purchased 40 years ago," Thaxton said. "But that's not what's happening for the majority of those benefitting from Save Our Homes. Let's just say, if you own a small cabin and a $1 million home, which one are you going to apply for the homestead exemption? The 3-percent cap is the same."
A property tax break that gives all owner-occupied homes the same tax cap is going to result in a mammoth tax shift toward everyone else. "Everyone else," in this case, means businesses, renters, and those owning vacation homes-- none of which benefit from the 3 percent cap. For these guys, "Save Our Homes" represents a big tax hike. Thaxton nails this one too:
"[A]bout 75 percent of the properties in Sarasota County were able to take advantage of the homestead, which allows a 3 percent cap on property tax increases. So, 75 percent of the property owners in Sarasota County are reasonably happy. It's the other 25 percent of the people that we are hearing from. And we are really hearing an earful because they are getting hit hard."
Kudos to the Herald for printing this very sensible take on what ails the Florida property tax. Now if the state can just start focusing on a sensible alternative...