Q&A – Florida's Property Tax Reform

Businessperson Calculating Property Tax

Photo: Getty Images

Today’s entry: Can’t wait to hear your proposal for a possible amendment to our property taxes. The wording and messaging for marketing purposes will be crucial. NOBODY WANTS TO PAY THE PROPERTY TAXES WE PAY IN SOUTH FLORIDA!!!

Bottom Line: For as long as I’ve been doing this, I’ve advocated checking your property tax assessment annually when you receive your proposed property taxes. Much like federal income tax withholding, property taxes for those with mortgages often aren’t fully understood as the money is allocated via escrow. This is also true of those who rent and thus don’t have to directly pay for property taxes but certainly are as part of monthly rent payments. Make no mistake. About $5,000 annually for the average South Florida household is a big deal and that’s about what we’re now paying this year. 

Last week when I highlighted property taxes and property insurance as Florida’s biggest issue right now, I heard from several people who were surprised to learn that South Florida’s property taxes were now among the most expensive in the country. In case you missed it, Broward and Palm Beach County’s property tax rates are now more expensive than 95% of the country and Miami-Dade is more expensive than 97.5%. The state of Florida is tax-friendly, however, South Florida isn’t.

The fact is change has been a consistent part of Florida’s property tax story. Eight significant changes to property taxation have occurred since ratification, including homestead exemptions and TRIM notices. Many others have occurred as recently as this year as two amendments passed just last November adding to the length of time you can transfer your homestead exemption from one property to another along with an additional reduction in property taxes for surviving spouses of deceased veterans. With two Constitutional Amendments addressing property taxes passing just last year, it’s certainly possible to make similar, if not bigger changes through the process in the future.

As for what I’d propose doing, there’s one big one for me. I don’t believe property should be able to be reposed for unpaid property taxes except under extraordinary circumstances. As I’ve stated before, do you ever really own your home if it can be taken away from you by the government for unpaid taxes? 

Without a state income tax, property tax is actually the largest source of local and state funding at 36.4%. I suspect with the recent collecting of online sales tax, for all purchases in Florida, it will push past property taxes for the top spot. That may provide added opportunity to limit imposed property taxes. I'd like to see the system reformed so that it would prioritize property rights while limiting taxation. I’d specifically propose limiting all property tax increases, regardless of property type or homestead status and regardless of taxing authority, to the rate of inflation as opposed to property value assessment increases.

Furthermore, I'd suggest limiting the ability for governments to repossess a homesteaded property for unpaid taxes in favor of a tiered approach which would limit the use of the property by cutting off utilities and services provided through tax assessments, in addition to privileges such as a driver's license until taxes are paid.

As has been illustrated, our current system is prioritizing governments over homeowners. At a minimum that should be neutral, and it shouldn’t be too much to ask. 

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

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com

Gettr, Parler & Twitter: @brianmuddradio 

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