Just Say “Yes” To Property Tax Relief

Voter approval of the property tax relief proposed in Amendment 1—on January 29th’s statewide ballot—does NOT mean that efforts to find incremental property tax relief will cease once these measures go into effect. While Amendment 1 may not be the perfect panacea for runaway property taxes, it is a good first step toward meatier measures to reduce the tax burden on Florida’s homeowners. Even as we fully support passage of Amendment 1 we will also endorse better legislation when it comes our way.

In the meantime, do we veto immediate tax relief in favor of no tax relief at all while we await further proposals? Of course not. That’s why we encourage you to show up on Election Day and vote “Yes” in favor of Amendment 1. It’s an immediate step in the right direction and could help loosen the stranglehold that excessive property taxation is having on our local economy.

Property taxes have doubled in the past six years, far outpacing the annual income growth of the average household. By voting “Yes” on Amendment 1 you are signaling your support for:

· “Portability,” the term given to the ability of homeowners to transfer their Save Our Homes benefit—up to $500,000—to a new homestead if they sold their home in 2007, or later.
· Doubling the homestead exemption from the current $25,000 to $50,000 for most Floridians.
· Providing an assessment growth limitation of ten percent for all non-homesteaded properties. These include 2nd and 3rd homes, as well as commercial real estate.
· Businesses receiving a new $25,000 exemption for “tangible personal property.”

With passage of the amendment, the average Floridian will have the option to comfortably make a housing move. Growing families will be able to upsize; empty nesters can downsize, and business owners will also find relief from rising property values. No one should be locked inside their present homes because of excessive taxation.

Election Day, January 29th, is also Florida’s Presidential Primary Day. If you are registered as an independent voter and unable to participate in the presidential voting, please don’t use this as a reason to stay home from the polls. You can vote on Amendment 1 without voting in the presidential primary.

If you are qualified to vote and will be absent your polling district on Election Day, you—or
someone designated by you—can request an absentee ballot by calling the Sarasota Supervisor of Elections at (941) 861-8618 no later than 5:00 p.m. 6 days prior to the election (Wednesday, January 23rd). You may also send an e-mail request for an absentee ballot to absentee@srqelections.com.

It’s important to remember that a full 60 percent of the voters must say “Yes” on Amendment 1 for it to succeed. Don’t count on other voters to make that happen. If the vote falls short and the amendment fails, the next such opportunity for constitutional property tax reform won’t occur until November 2008. Then, assuming voters approve a different ballot initiative, it wouldn’t go into effect until the following year. Are you prepared to wait until 2009 for the possibility of tax relief, when you can have some now, and still enjoy the possibility of more later?

Property tax reform is an issue that affects all of us in so many ways. Please vote on January 29th. Failure to do so abdicates one of your most valuable rights as a citizen and allows your valuable opinion to go unnoticed.

Cordially,

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