These have been stressful times for everyone. You can't turn on the television without hearing something about tax increases, gas prices...something that wants to suck the life out of our wallet and bank account.
When the Florida Legislation session began this month, a few more clouds over the Sunshine State floated away. Property owners all over the state let out a sigh of relief that could probably be heard all the way to South Carolina when we received a little more tax relief.
Citizens will gain the freedom to purchase a new home without huge tax penalties. Rental home owners, second home owners and businesses will benefit from limits on future tax increases. The amendment contains two provisions that we have long advocated: doubling the homestead exemption and the ability for families to take with them their Save Our Homes tax savings, or "portability.
Sound like a bunch of political mumbo-jumbo? Let's break it all down:
1. Doubles the homestead exemption for almost all homeowners, providing an average savings of about $240 annually. The new exemption applies fully to homesteads valued over $75,000, and partially for homesteads valued between $50,000 and $75,000. This new exemption does not apply to school taxes.
2. Portability allows homeowners to transfer their Save Our Homes tax benefits from their current home to a newly purchased home within any Florida county. Portability applies to homes purchased in 2007 and later, and the benefit is capped at $500,000.
3. Provides an assessment cap of 10 percent for all properties not previously capped: While homestead properties are already capped at three percent, now all other properties, including rental properties, second homes, and business properties, will be protected from huge tax increases.
Perhaps now homeowners and future home owners won't be scrambling around, worried to make a move - literally. Buying or selling a property should always be more exciting than stressful. Perhaps now it can be.
This was a great step in the right direction for Florida homeowners. But there is still much that can be done. More relief can come our way. I know. Politics aren't everyone's best friend. However, as cliché as it sounds, we all CAN make a difference. Write or call our government officials. Remember, they work for us. And when the time comes, get out there and vote! We need a real tax reduction and the 10 % cap is too high.
Whether you're in the market to buy your first home or your tenth...or maybe you're still on the fence in your current situation...buying a home is ALWAYS a big deal. Hopefully the good news will help all of us have a clearer picture of our real estate future.
And wouldn't you rather be disagreeing with your spouse over what color you should paint the new dining room?