Florida legislation could remove exemption for school district property taxes

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(The Center Square) — Two related measures have been filed in the Florida Legislature to remove a provision allowing a property owner with a homestead tax exemption to be exempt from school district tax levies.

A homestead exemption is a way to lower property taxes for homeowners. Generally, it is offered in many states as a legal provision that helps protect surviving spouses from creditors, or in the event that someone declares bankruptcy. However, the homestead exemption does not prevent a foreclosure sale if the homeowner has defaulted on their mortgage.

To qualify for a homestead exemption in Florida, the property must be the homeowner’s primary residence before Jan. 1 of the year the application was filed. They also must be U.S. citizens or permanent U.S. residents, as well as a Florida resident.

Homeowners with an exemption can receive a tax break of up to $50,000 of their property’s value. Current Florida law states that the first $25,000 applies to all property taxes, including school district tax levies. Under the new law proposal, school district levies would be exempt.

According to the Tax Foundation data, property taxes in Florida vary between counties. Homeowners in northern Florida’s Dixie County pay around $560 annually, while a homeowner in Miami-Dade pays around $2,900 annually. In 2021, Florida’s property taxes were ranked 26th highest in the nation using the U.S. Census Bureau data.

School district tax levies are generally worked out at $1 per every $1,000 of a property’s value. A $200,000 home will have a school district tax levy of around $200. can increase taxes with the approval of voters.

House Joint Resolution 69 was filed alongside House Bill 71 on Sept. 20, and Rep. Alina Garcia, R-Miami, sponsored both bills. The proposed resolution and the bill have now been referred to the Ways & Means Committee.

HJR 69, which is a constitutional amendment, would have to be passed before HB 71 would take effect.

HB 71’s text states that “every person who qualifies to receive the exemption… is entitled to an additional exemption of up to $25,000 on the assessed valuation greater than $50,000 for all levies.”

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