TAX REVOLUTION IN TALLAHASSEE
February 22, 2007
Florida taxpayers could save thousands of dollars a year in property taxes under a sweeping tax overhaul unveiled Wednesday by the Republican-controlled Florida House.
Under the House plan:
- A proposed constitutional amendment would abolish all property taxes homeowners pay on their primary residences.
- The amendment also would add 2.5 cents to the state's 6-cent sales tax -- making it the highest statewide rate in the nation.
- The plan also calls for a separate state law that would immediately force local governments to roll back property-tax rates and cut nearly $5.8 billion in spending, or an average of 19 percent of their budgets.
- The legislation also would impose a cap limiting future property-tax increases. The rollback would not affect levies for school districts, but the cap on future tax increases would.
But the package drew angry reactions from cities and counties, which warned that the rollback would lead to wholesale cuts in state programs like police and fire protection, and wary responses from business groups concerned about a spike in sales taxes.
However, officials supporting the legislation insist it will save residents money. For example:
- The rollback would save the average Orange County homeowner $247 in property taxes next year and the average commercial property owner $3,393, according to House estimates.
- The homeowner's savings would swell to $2,099 -- offset somewhat by the higher sales tax -- if the property-tax-for-sales-tax swap is approved.
Source: Jason Garcia, "Tax revolution in Tallahassee," Orlando Sentinel, February 22, 2007.
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