Amendment 1 would benefit too few, shift tax burden downward
The constitutional amendments on the November ballot include three proposed by the Florida Legislature.
All involve taxation, and — if 60 percent of voters approve them — all would make it harder for state and local governments to raise the money needed for vital services.
Despite that, Amendment 1 will be tough for many voters with Florida primary residences to resist. If passed, it will increase the homestead exemption by $25,000.
For Palm Beach County, it means that the owners of 230,000 homes could save an average of $287 on their tax bill, says the Florida Association of Counties (FAC). But only 57 percent of Florida homesteads would benefit from the new exemption.
Florida’s cities, counties and other taxing authorities would lose $753 million annually starting in 2019, the FAC says. Palm Beach County would lose some $63 million, or 3.1 percent of property tax revenue.
Cities and counties will react by cutting back on services. Or they’ll increase other taxes or fees. Instead of an overall tax cut, we’d see a tax shift to lower-income homeowners, apartment dwellers and small businesses.
Vote NO on Amendment 1.
Amendment 2 concerns non-homestead properties: vacation homes, apartments and commercial property. As of now, the assessed value of non-homestead properties can be increased only 10 percent in any given year, excepting school district taxes.
But that cap is set to expire Jan. 1. This amendment would make it permanent.
Voters set the existing 10-percent cap in 2008. It helped ease inequities in Florida’s tax system. Voters should now extend it. Vote YES on Amendment 2.
The third offering from the Republican-dominated Florida Legislature would turn conservatives’ loathing of tax increases into a permanent fixture of state government. Called Amendment 5, it would require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to approve any new or increased taxes or fees.
This proposal is plain ridiculous. It would handcuff future Legislatures’ ability to react to an economic downturn or fiscal emergency. And it would be an extreme reaction to a non-existent problem: Florida has the 47th lowest overall tax burden in the nation. Where’s the problem? Vote NO on Amendment 5.