Instead of solving unfair elements in Florida’s property tax system, it makes them worse by giving the most relief to those who need it least — longtime homeowners.
It also provides virtually no help for others, including first-time home-buyers, second home owners, and those who are paying bigger tax bills than their neighbors because they bought at the height of the real estate bubble, now burst.
Portability is almost certain to face a court challenge because it magnifies the inequities of Save Our Homes to the point where it may violate the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce, Right to Travel or Interstate Privileges protections.
So portability savings for homeowners are far from guaranteed.
The amendment’s key components, increasing the homestead exemption and enabling homeowners to transfer Save Our Homes benefits to another house, are simplistic leftovers from Gov. Charlie Crist’s 2006 campaign. They provide the largest breaks to taxpayers who need the least help, and they add more unfairness to a property tax system that already is unfair. The politicians and real estate agents who suggest the amendment magically would revive Florida’s economy are fooling themselves.
The property tax system already favors longtime homeowners over more recent home buyers, business owners and the owners of second homes and investment properties. That is a direct result of Save Our Homes, which limits annual increases in assessed value to 3 percent or inflation, whichever is lower. As property values soared, homeowners who stayed put saw the gap widen between the market value of their house and the assessed value for tax purposes.
Last year, 37 percent of the market value of all homesteads in Florida was protected from property taxes by Save Our Homes. For many individual homeowners, the portion of their house’s value shielded from property taxes by Save Our Homes is far higher. As a result, the property tax burden has shifted to businesses and other nonhomestead properties that aren’t protected. And the owners of similar homes on the same street pay wildly different property tax bills depending upon how long they have lived there, because the assessed value resets to market value when the houses are sold.