FLORIDA TAX REFORM

February 26, 2007

In Florida, property tax reform proposals from Gov. Charlie Christ and House Speaker Marco Rubio are gaining momentum.  But getting lawmakers to agree on a common proposal may prove difficult, says the Bradenton Herald.

Consider:

  • Rubio's plan would establish a baseline for taxation by rolling back property taxes to 2000-2001 levels, adjusted by a formula based on inflation and population growth.
  • Local governments could decide to go over the cap with only a two-thirds vote or a simple majority if two-thirds is not possible.
  • Rubio also has suggested the Legislature approve a rollback of about 20 percent on all property taxes, while increasing the sales tax 2.5 cents on the dollar, to implement the nation's highest sales tax.

Meanwhile:

  • Under Gov. Crist's plan, homestead property owners would see their exemptions double from $25,000 to $50,000.
  • The homestead exemption also would become portable so that homeowners would be able to buy larger or smaller homes within the state without losing the 3 percent cap.
  • Finally, Gov. Crist would make second-home owners and commercial property owners eligible for the 3 percent Save Our Homes cap.

But Jonathan Hamilton, chairman of the economics department at the University of Florida, said the real solution to Florida's tax woes is simply lowering property tax rates.

"The one thing where I'm seeing relatively little discussion, is lowering property tax rates for everybody.  State officials "seem to be talking about a very targeted tax rate reduction, and there are a lot of reasons why it's not the brightest idea," said Hamilton.

Source: Nicholas Azzara, "Florida tax reform: Examples abound around U.S.," Bradenton Herald, February 26, 2007.

 

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