Despite a very tight state budget, Realtors® and their communities throughout Florida are walking away from the 2018 session of the Florida Legislature with several key victories: a $31 million cut to the Business Rent Tax, $110 million for affordable housing projects and more than $400 million for Florida's natural resources.
● Additional reduction in the Business Rent Tax — HB 7087 included a cut to the Business Rent Tax, and businesses throughout Florida will save an additional $31 million each year due to the second reduction in the tax rate in as many years. The new state tax rate businesses will pay on their commercial leases will be 5.7 percent. Effective: Jan. 1, 2019.
● Tax credits for businesses that pay the Business Rent Tax — HB 7055 is a broad education bill that addresses several education-related matters. Included is a measure that allows businesses to receive tax credits for a portion of the Business Rent Tax they pay, which will go toward certain scholarship funds. Effective: July 1, 2018.
● More than $400 million for Florida's natural resources — Everglades restoration, beach renourishment and springs protection received significant amounts of funding this year. A large amount of funding was also allocated to expedite repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike around the southern boundary of Lake Okeechobee. Effective: July 1, 2018.
● Nearly $110 million for affordable housing projects — Affordable housing programs will receive close to $110 million from the state and local government housing trust funds. These funds go a long way in helping Floridians achieve the dream of homeownership with down payment assistance. They also provide rental assistance and housing rehabilitation to Florida's homeless population, veterans and persons with disabilities.
● Strengthening flood insurance notices to protect homeowners — Many property owners forgo flood insurance because they mistakenly believe their standard homeowner policies include flood damage coverage. HB 1011 strengthens the current flood insurance notice included in their property insurance policy. Insurers must include the notice in the initial policy and when the policy is renewed. Effective: Jan. 1, 2019.
● Regulating mortgage lenders — Currently, lenders that make residential mortgage loans for personal, family or household purposes are regulated by the Florida Office of Financial Regulation (OFR). HB 935 extends this licensure requirement to lenders making residential mortgage loans for business purposes. These loans are most often offered to purchasers who are renovating or remodeling a home for resale. Effective: Jan. 1, 2019.