May 13, 2017

Florida Homestead Exemption Hike On the 2018 Ballot

Florida voters next year will vote on whether to raise the Florida homestead exemption. The November 2018 ballot will include a constitutional amendment to increase the exemption from $50,000 to $75,000 on homes worth $100,000 or more. If 60% of voters approve, the new rate will take effect January 1, 2019.

Available to Floridians for their primary residences, the homestead exemption reduces the value of the residence for property tax assessment purposes. According to estimates, the hike would save 4.3 million state residents about $644 million. The average homeowner would see a savings of $170 annually.

The measure has its advocates and critics. In all likelihood, homeowners will vote "yes" to putting money in their pockets. Florida municipalities and counties, on the other hand, are concerned about the amendment's impact on critical services. According to various estimates, annual lost revenue for Palm Beach County would be $62.7 million; Broward County, $73.5 million; Martin County, $8 million; and St. Lucie County, $8.2 million.  

At a recent regional meeting covered by WPTV, Indian River County Administrator Jason Brown said assisted living facilities in the western part of the county could be affected by cuts to fire services. And St. Lucie County officials said the new library, scheduled to open later this year, might lack the necessary funds to operate. 

Advocates for the amendment argue that voters deserve a chance to vote on the property tax break, particularly in light of the fact that many people's home values have yet to recover from the 2008-2009 recession. The measure is sure to get plenty of press coverage as we get closer to the 2018 election.

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