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One Step Forward for Florida Property Taxes – Vote Yes on Amendment 1

On Tuesday January 29th, Florida voters have the opportunity the make a positive change in providing immediate tax relief to thousands of property homeowners. Critics claim that this amendment does not provide enough change. I say, let’s take the good with the bad and revise and amend as we move forward. Admittedly, Amendment 1 is not a comprehensive solution to the property tax crisis but it is a reasonable step in the right direction.

Here are the key components to understand: 1) we keep the Save Our Homes benefits when we move. This means that the tax assessment cap will remain at 3% for new homesteaded property; 2) homestead exemption will increase to the equivalent of $40,000; 3) “portability” will allow homeowners to take up to $500,000 in accumulated tax savings to their next homesteaded property; 4) the amendment will create a new $25,000 personal property tax exemption on business equipment; and 5) a 10% annual assessment cap for non-homesteaded property.

Although many Florida citizens believe that this is not enough relief (and I agree), this plan provides an immediate start and a real opportunity to begin stimulating our state’s economy now. Many democrats are opposed to the tax cuts because of the potential lost revenue to schools and local government (and the projected loss of jobs). Local government and school budget cuts are projected to total an estimated $9.3 billion over the next five years and it is feared that these cuts could have a mighty impact on quality of life, if local governments fail to prioritize spending. Let’s go ahead and place that management onus on our elected officials and ask them to perform their jobs in a fiscally responsible manner. We have all been directly impacted by the debacle of the sub-prime mortgage market and this rather bleak real estate economy. It is now time for all of us to realign and our local governments cannot be excluded.

Our next opportunity to go to the polls and make a change will be November 2008. This state could use a lot of economic stimulus right now and Amendment 1 will provide the first step in the right direction. Make a change now. Tomorrow is the day to vote Yes on Amendment 1.

By Charlie Hounchell, Esquire

Please be advised that this article does not constitute legal advice nor does it provide any basis to form an attorney-client relationship. Nothing in this article should be copied without the express permission of the author.

Mr. Hounchell has a law degree from The University of Florida College of Law and he is a partner in The Law Offices of Charles A. Hounchell, P.A. � Attorneys & Counselors at Law, in Tampa, Florida. Mr. Hounchell obtained his undergraduate degree from The George Washington University in Washington D.C. and he obtained his MBA in International Management from the American Graduate School of International Management (“Thunderbird”) in Glendale, Arizona..

Mr. Hounchell is a licensed real estate agent with Smith and Associates, Inc. www.smithandassociates.com; www.livecasanova.com. He has lived in many different countries, including Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and Germany and he speaks Spanish and Portuguese. A significant portion of Mr. Hounchell’s law practice is concentrated on Real Estate Law. He can be reached at 813-230-3376 or charlie@floridapropertylaw.com