Amendment 4: Lower taxes, more growth


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  • | 12:00 p.m. October 12, 2012
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from Florida Realtors

Amendment 4 is a constitutional amendment on Florida’s ballot this year. This proposal will lower property taxes for new homebuyers and spur much-needed economic growth in the housing market by offering a healthy new exemption for first-time homebuyers.

Amendment 4 will also protect working families, small businesses and homeowners from unfair and unexpected tax increases by helping to stop “recapture,” a tax gimmick that increases property taxes even when property values decline.

Finally, Amendment 4 will lower assessment increases on non-homestead properties from a burdensome 10 percent to a more reasonable 5 percent.

Bottom line

• Amendment 4 creates an additional homestead exemption for first-time homebuyers for 5 years.

• Amendment 4 protects Floridians from increased property taxes when their property values have declined.

• Amendment 4 lowers the maximum yearly assessment increase on non-homestead properties from 10 percent to 5 percent.

Potential questions

Q: Does this new homestead exemption replace the exemption in current law?

A: No. The new homestead exemption in Amendment 4 is applied in addition to your current homestead exemption.

Q: Won’t creating an additional homestead exemption affect the funding of police officers and firefighters?

A: Amendment 4 is not retroactive and does nothing to affect the current budgets of local governments.

Q: Does Amendment 4 change or reduce “Save Our Homes”, which caps assessment increases at 3 percent per year for homestead property, at all?

A: No.

Q: If local governments are not able to raise the assessed value of a property that has gone down in market value, won’t they just raise millage rates?

A: It is the local government’s decision whether to raise taxes on Florida homeowners or not. Amendment 4 simply gives the Legislature the authority to protect homeowners from burdensome, unfair tax increases if the value of their home goes down.

Q: Exactly how much is this new homestead exemption?

A: The additional homestead exemption that Amendment 4 creates is equal to half of the home’s value, up to the median home value in the county.