My letter to the Florida House and Senate for meaningful property tax reform, after the initial special session completed summer 2007:
To Whom it May Concern:
"Rolling back taxes" to the 2006-2007 rates is ludicrous. That is not a meaningful reform in any way. The county property appraisers re-appraise properties every year based on sales prices, so tax rates are going down anyway based on the devaluation of properties over the past 1 1/2 years. City and county governments have been on spending sprees during the last several years. It's disgusting. Now they try and scare people saying they would have to make cuts in police, fire, parks, etc. Well good! That's what they're supposed to do. They've been buying in excess and giving themselves fat raises, with all of our tax money just pouring in.
Local governments are only trying to scare people in order to protect they're huge raises and spending budgets. The good of a few does not out way the good of the many. They've had huge double-digit budget increases, now is the time to get a handle on this disgusting misuse of the people's money.
All I've heard by lawmakers is "this will be the greatest tax cut in Florida history", and patting each other on the back. Well no one has been mentioning that the last few years have been the greatest run up in taxes in Florida history. And the reason for that is local government manipulating huge flaws in Florida's tax law system, a system that needs to be fixed for MAJOR relief for taxpayers NOW!
The bottom line is that this initial legislation has to bring major relief immediately. "Relief" that only provides for $100-$200 tax savings this year isn't really savings now is it?! Our tax bills have seen double-digit percentage increases for several years. How can you honestly say that you have really done anything? Please, don't let the city and county lobbyists persuade you with lies and threats. They need to reduce their budgets (and salaries if needed). The good of the vast majority outweighs those small few running the local governments, only trying to protect their budgets that have included huge raises. Enough is enough!!
Florida property tax levies have increased 99 percent over the past five years. Realtors understand that the issue is complex and it will be difficult to resolve every issue in one short session. Realtors believe that meaningful tax cuts can be made immediately and that local governments can still deliver essential services. Please consider the following:
•Relief for non-homestead and commercial properties needs to be greater than the approximately 9 percent cut that is being proposed. Commercial property owners have suffered annual tax increases of 20, 30 and even 50 percent over the past five years
•Realtors support the “Super Homestead” exemption that is being proposed as an amendment to the Constitution. We are also pleased that this exemption will increase with inflation, and can be increased by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature if the Constitutional amendment passes.
•Realtors support phasing out Save Our Homes. The Legislature needs to address the pent-up and growing demand of residents who either need to move but can’t, or want to move but know it’s not in their best interest to do so.
•Commercial property needs to be assessed on its “present use” and not its “highest and best use.” There is ample evidence of abuse of highest and best use determinations throughout the state and the unwarranted tax burdens endured by countless commercial and business property owners. If not included in the current reform package, this issue must be addressed the next time the legislature is in session.
•Realtors support putting Constitutional tax reform on the January 29, 2008 presidential preference primary ballot.
The legislature is headed in the right direction, but we need meaningful relief and we need it now.
Daniel A. Biro
Castle Properties & Investments, LLC
Real Estate/Mortgage Broker
Professional REALTOR ®