Property tax break good for you, bad for city & county

You'll get to vote on homestead exemptions in 2018
Posted at 6:17 PM, May 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-02 03:56:21-04

A big property tax exemption could soon be reality, after Florida senators voted yes to put a $75,000 homestead exemption on the 2018 ballot Monday. 

Some Pinellas County homeowners, including Largo’s Chuck Johnson are thrilled. “I think the taxes should be lowered. We have a lot of people losing their houses because they can’t pay taxes, insurance or the upkeep.”

Johnson, who qualifies for a homestead exemption because of his age, pays less in property taxes, but reinvests the money into making his home and yard look nice. He’s watched as far too many of his neighbors have been forced into foreclosure. 

Here’s how the homestead exemption would work. It increases the exemption from $50,000 to $75,000. That means if your home is worth $100,000, it will be taxed as if it is worth $25,000. Homes under $75,000 in value could be exempt from taxes all together. Homes worth $200,000 would pay as if they are worth $125,000. 

Bernard Zielinski, another Largo homeowner likes the idea, “Every dollar counts today. It really does.”

Yet, city and county leaders across Florida warn that the increased homestead exemption has consequences. Hillsborough County will lose out on 50 million dollars a year, Pinellas would take a 45 million hit and Pasco County will lose 17 million bucks. That’s money used for things like police officers, firefighters, roads, sidewalks and parks.

Woody Brown, the mayor of Largo explains, “We will either have to make that up with higher millage rates or cut services. that’s the decision we’ll have to make.”

It could also mean your next door neighbor pays way less than you in taxes. The burden would be shifted to those who rent, own vacation homes or businesses, according to Brown. 

The Florida Association of Counties estimates that the lost property tax revenue to counties, cities and special taxing districts would be $587.5 million total in 2019.

Although the homestead exemption will appear on the 2018 ballot, it it is passed, it will take effect in 2019.