Vol 6 No. 38 - June14, 2006
Runaway taxes plague property
By Louise Bolger
SUN STAFF WRITER
Youve heard about the runaway
bride, well, it seems the entire country is experiencing runaway
taxes. It doesnt matter if you live on Anna Maria Island
or in Atlanta, Georgia, if your home has increased in value
during the past five years, chances are your property taxes
have increased as well.
Because of Floridas Save Our Homes amendment and Homestead
Exemption, full-time Florida residents have been spared the
full extent of property tax increases that have been experienced
in states without homestead exemptions. However, non-homesteaded
property owners and business owners in Florida have been thrown
to the lions.
On Anna Maria Island CART, The Coalition Against Runaway Taxation,
is organizing to find a way to help resort and business owners
on the Island stabilize the tax structure. This is going on
in other parts of the country as well. Twenty states have legislative
proposals, citizen initiatives and lawsuits on their agendas
to address property owners concerns and distrust of how their
tax money is being assessed and dispersed.
If businesses and non-homesteaded owners are forced to leave
the Island, who will take their place? This is a serious question
affecting everyone, including those of us who are homesteaded.
So much of our successful local economy is based on tourists
and seasonal visitors that a decrease in this business would
be felt by everyone.
Good for you if the home you purchased for $200,000 seven years
ago is now worth $1,000,000, but the person buying it will be
faced with about $15,000 in taxes for starters, a number not
everyone is willing or able to absorb. The net result could
be a decrease in the pool of buyers.
I saw this happen in the northeast 15 years ago. The property
taxes in some towns were way out of proportion to the value
of the homes. If the buyer was qualified for a mortgage on the
home, he could have been disqualified once the property taxes
were calculated into the monthly carrying cost.
Some tax increases are, of course, necessary to run schools
and services. But, is it fair and logical to tax property and
business owners on the entire unrealized gain that is the market
value of their property years before they sell?
It sure doesnt look like the state Legislature is interested
in taking care of the problem anytime soon. Bill HJR 353, Assessment
of Homestead Property, was exiled to a study committee where
it will undoubtedly die a slow death. If you recall, this was
the bill intended to amend Save Our Homes, allowing for an increase
in the homestead exemption and to permit the partial transfer
of homesteaded exemptions to another home. The bill was certainly
not a perfect fix, but at least an opening up of discussion
in the right direction.
However, the legislature did manage to get some legislation
passed and signed by the governor related to waterfront hotels
and motels only. The bill gives individual counties the ability
to defer property taxes on qualified businesses.
Manatee County commissioners will consider this option, but
this represents relief for only a fraction of property owners.
As far as I know, the state Legislature has never proposed a
bill to alleviate the tax burden on non-homesteaded property
owners and other business owners.
Welcome to the flip side of the real estate boom, the price
were all paying for years of rising home values. If it
keeps up, the brides wont be the only ones running. Well
send buyers running as well. Then rising home values will be
one less thing well have to worry about.
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