Backers of a proposed constitutional amendment say failure to pass the amendment will amount to a tax increase on all Floridians. The measure in question will appear as Amendment 2 on the ballot and it would make permanent a 10 percent tax cap on non-homestead property.
Voters originally passed the non-homestead 10 percent tax cap in 2008, but the original amendment was only set to last for 10 years. It is set to be sunset January 1, 2019. The new proposal would make the tax cap permanent.
Non-homestead properties include businesses, residential rentals, and vacant lots across the state. A report released in May by Florida TaxWatch says if the exemption is allowed to expire, Floridians could pay an additional $700 million in property taxes starting next year.
“It allows for businesses to keep their prices at a degree of stability as they can accurately project their budgets for months and even years to come, and this benefit is passed on to the consumer, every Florida citizen,” says Robert Weissert, Florida TaxWatch.
Anna King, the owner of a Tallahassee hair salon says that stability is essential for the success of her business.
“As a business owner who rents my salon space, the 10 percent non-homestead tax cap is one of the few protections I have,along with every other non-homestead owner and business owners,” explains King. “Amendment 2 is a protective of every Florida citizen including renters and consumers. If my landlord’s taxes go up, it will be passed on to me. That will impact my ability to keep my costs of the salon services at a competitive, fair, affordable price.”
Everybody is for Amendment 2 is a group that includes thousands of small business owners and residential renters from across the state. The group held a news conference in Tallahassee Tuesday, three weeks before the election, to urge voters to pass the measure. The state constitution requires that a proposed amendment must receive 60 percent of the support of voters in order for the measure to pass.
While permanently extending the non-homestead tax cap would benefit small business owners, supporters say if the amendment doesn’t pass, renters stand to be hurt the hardest.
“What’s more, today in Florida the largest number of non-homestead properties are used for residential rentals. So if Amendment 2 fails, renters will get hit first and hardest,” says French Brown, a tax attorney with Dean Mean. “We have more renters today since the 1980’s in Florida. Combined with an affordable housing shortage, it’s imperative we pass Amendment 2 this November.”
Supporters 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.