Q&A – How Florida’s Property Taxing Authorities Work

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Today’s entry: Hi Brian, What would be the process to defund/remove education from my property tax? I am ok with paying for the fire department and sheriff's offices. I think it's time local, state, and federal governments only get tax money from the items we buy no reoccurring from our pay or property. Then maybe the political elite will learn how capitalism works. I am ok with paying my car registration until they lose their mind and overcharge us.

Bottom Line: I hear you and understand your frustration regarding property taxes. I’ve long held the belief that property taxes are the most regressive taxes in our society. This includes the philosophical question and point regarding whether one truly ever owns their property if recurring taxes are levied against it, with your local government ready to confiscate your property should you not pay those taxes. I’m also sympathetic to your point regarding property taxes for education. In fact, education taxes on your property tax bill are the highest of any taxing authority category and yet they’re among the least used. 

The top funding source for our public schools in Florida are property taxes. However, in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metro, the number of households that use the public school system is only 28.6%. All homeowners pay property taxes to provide education that just over a quarter of households use. Additionally, supporting your argument is this consideration, one in ten homeowners in South Florida is at risk of losing their home due to affordability issues. Currently, the TriCounty metro ranks 12th highest in foreclosure activity nationally and the only reason it’s not even higher is due to the hot housing market which has allowed many homeowners who are effectively taxed out of their homes to sell and downsize rather than have their property repossessed. Now, if you want changes that obviously won’t come easily, here’s how it works. 

Florida law allows for property taxing authorities. The taxing authorities are established by your local governments. This includes county and municipal governments. When you look at your property tax bill which is always a good idea to do annually, especially with proposed property tax assessments soon to be sent out, you’ll see each one of them listed along with how much you pay to each. Specific to education, you’ll see an assessment of your school district by state law and another by your local board. The state law school funding requirement is called the Required Local Effort, which is the minimum funding the state of Florida says must be provided for public education. Your school district’s assessment is local discretion spending above that total. 

As a result, if you wanted to completely remove the funding of schools from your property tax bill, you’d need a new law altering the Required Local Effort and action by your county commission to remove the annual assessment for the school district. What’s instructive in this conversation is that while the task of altering the taxing authorities may seem to be a monumental task, it’s mostly controlled at the county and local level with officials directly elected and accountable to you.

Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods. 

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com

Parler & Twitter: @brianmuddradio 

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