A new report says Floridians could pay an additional $700 million in property taxes starting next year if voters don’t approve Amendment 2 that will appear on the November ballot.

The proposed amendment would make permanent a non-homestead exemption cap that is set to be repealed January 1, 2019.  Voters originally passed the non-homestead 10 percent tax cap in 2008, a move that is credited with stemming a “multi-billion dollar tax shift from homestead to non-homestead properties.”

The report was prepared by Florida TaxWatch, a government watchdog group that focuses on tax issues. TaxWatch says the repeal of the exemption could greatly impact those people who rely on non-homestead properties.

“Allowing the cap to expire will result in a property tax hike that will unfairly and severely impact renters and seniors on fixed incomes, businesses, owners of undeveloped land, and part-time residents,” said Dominic M. Calabro, president and CEO of TaxWatch. “Property taxes are Florida’s largest state and local tax source, and the disparity between homestead and non-homestead property taxes is already significant.”

Amendment 2 also has the backing of  Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Association of REALTORS®.

“Making the 10 percent non-homestead tax cap permanent in Florida impacts everybody in the state. It allows business owners to plan for the future by having a better grasp on their budgets, so they can expand and create more jobs. It helps renters continue to afford their housing as they save to one day purchase a home,” said Carrie O’Rourke, Vice President of Public Policy for the Florida Association of REALTORS®.

The groups say passage of the proposed amendment is “vital to Florida’s economy and taxpayers.” They say if it fails, it will subject non-homestead property owners to a more disproportionate system that could result in spikes in future assessments after the first of the year.  

O’Rourke says before the non-homestead tax cap was passed ten years ago, “nearly three out of four non-homestead properties in Florida had taxes increases of more than 10 percent year to year.” In 2006 alone, O’Rourke says 30 percent of non-homestead properties in Florida were hit with an 80 percent hike from just the year before.

Amendment 2 will be one of 13 proposed amendments voters will be asked to decide on when they cast ballots in the November election. The amendment needs the support of 60 percent of the voters in order to pass.

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