Putting Education Reform To The Test

School Groups Oppose “Fiscal Micro-Management” of Amendment 4

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Amendment 4 would change property tax laws for commercial properties, rentals and second homes.

Property taxes are complicated, and school officials are worried Amendment 4 will make them more so.

It’s why they’re opposing the amendment even though schools are not included in the change.

Amendment 4 is one of a handful of ballot questions intended to lower property tax bills. As with all amendments, it must be approved by 60 percent of those voting.

The amendment would give first-time homebuyers an exemption equal to half the home’s taxable value, up to the median price of a home in the county. The exemption would then be phased out over the next five years.

The change would also cut the maximum increase in taxable value on commercial property, rentals and second homes to 5 percent from 10 percent.

The changes would lower statewide property tax collections by $1.7 billion over the next four years, according to Florida Association of Counties estimates.

Again, schools are exempted from nearly all of the changes — though they might be affected by later legislation.

Amendment 4 is getting a big push from Florida real estate agents who say it will help jump-start real estate sales and construction. Supporters have spent more than $4 million to convince voters to approve Amendment 4.

Florida Tax Watch argues Amendment 4 would create jobs and boost state gross domestic product and personal income.

Local governments are opposing the measure because it would mean cuts to services or unpopular tax increases — to be pushed on to existing Florida homeowners who have owned their homes for years. Hillsborough County, for instance, says it would lose between $6.8 million and $8.8 million the first year according to the Tampa Tribune.

The Florida School Boards Association says Amendment 4 makes a complicated property tax system even more convoluted.

“This is fiscal micro-management of local governments by the state that is contrary to
the tenets of local control,” the group wrote in its talking points on the amendment. “Rather than directly tackling the inequities in Florida’s tax structure, this amendment just makes them worse.”

You can read the ballot question and legislation here.

A ‘yes’ vote means you want to approved the property tax changes.

A ‘no’ vote means you want to keep the existing tax rules.


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