TAMPA - We've heard from many of you asking for a simple explanation of the 11 proposed amendments to the State Constitution on the ballot this year. We understand why. They are lengthy and complex. A couple of the summaries are over 600 words long.
Five of the eleven ballot measures affect property taxes, and give breaks to some, but not all taxpayers.
Disabled veterans from Florida already get an extra discount on their property taxes. Amendment 2 would extend that break to disabled combat veterans who moved to Florida from out of state after entering the military.
Amendment 4 makes several changes to current tax law. It would reduce the maximum annual increase on the taxable value of non-homesteaded properties, like vacation homes. It would also give an extra tax exemption to first-time home buyers and prevent homes that have dropped in value from being assessed at a higher value.
Surviving spouses of veterans or first responders killed in the line of duty already get a total property tax exemption in Florida. Amendment 9 would simply make that exemption a permanent part of the Florida Constitution.
More: See Brendan's breakdown of the rest of the amendments at http://wfts.tv/TdOQmh .
Amendment 10 affects mainly small businesses, and would double the tax exemption on tangible property like furniture, fixtures, tools and other equipment.
Amendment 11 reduces property taxes for low-income seniors who have lived in the same house for more than 25 years.
Few are arguing against lower taxes for poor seniors and disabled veterans, but consumer advocates believe the amendments are intended to starve local government of revenue, thereby hurting the very same people the laws purport to help.
"There'll be less money available, because of all of these tax cuts taken together. So really, they'll be worse off, not better off," says Bill Newton, executive director of the Florida Consumer Action Network in Tampa.
Republican State Senator Mike Fasano believes these targeted tax breaks will stimulate the housing industry.
All of these tax break initiatives were put on the ballot and are supported by the Republican majority in the Legislature.
But if you trust the League of Women Voters, the choice is easy. They urge a 'no' vote on all eleven ballot measures.
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