January 27, 2008

Florida's "Amendent 1" a Loser (updated)

There's a problem with the way property taxes are calculated in Florida; it's completely, unequivocally UNFAIR.

And "Amendment 1" does not change that. It doesn't change that at all.

So what does it do? It not only perpetuates the inherent unfairness, it extends it.

Our tax laws are unfair because they create huge gaps between what one person is paying, and what a neighbor in an identical home is paying. Equal properties should result in equal taxes; everyone should be paying their fair share. But in Florida, long time homeowners are NOT paying their share. And so the burden goes onto their neighbors who came here more recently.

''I'm standing in my backyard right now looking in my neighbor's house, which is essentially the same,'' said [Stanley C.] Chamberlin, of North Palm Beach, last week. "My neighbor pays about $8,000 in taxes and I pay $23,000, and it's just not fair.''
- Miami Herald, January 27, 2008

This is a result of the so-called "Save Our Homes" initiative. This dismally stupid amendment limited the amount of value that a homestead property could increase on the tax rolls each year. The limit is defined as three percent OR a figure equal to the Consumer Price Index, whichever is less.

Now, I know that SEEMS like a good thing. And if you don't plan on living into the future, it is. But time passes, and property values in the REAL world increase. Or skyrocket.

You've owned your home for ten years. Your neighbor moved in five years ago, and he paid twice what you did, because housing cost do that. He pays a property tax based on that market value of twice your original purchase price; you're paying a fraction of that because SOH artificially reduces the value of your home for tax purposes.

So you own your home; NOW you want to move. The problem is that you've been paying a tax rate WAAAAAAY out of touch with the real world; even if you're downsizing, the price of home is way up; even if you find a house that is equal to your old home's assessed SOH value, the tax rate will be many times what you were paying on your old house. Suddenly, it's cheaper to stay in an oversized house.

Amendment 1 offers a band-aid, but doesn't really solve ANYTHING. What it does it let you take your SOH tax break with you - sort of. The Sun-Sentinel explains this:

"For example, if the owner of a $400,000 home, with an accumulated Save
Our Homes exemption of $300,000, moved to a house valued by the
property appraiser at $800,000, the new house would be assessed at
$500,000 for tax purposes. This would be retroactive to homes sold in
Someone buying the house for the first time would have to pay taxes based on the full value of $800,000.

But none of this addresses the taxes paid by non-residents; the snowbirds.

While homesteaders have had paltry increases based on a fictional 3% increase in property value, non-resident property owners have faced double digit increases every year. Someone has to pay for infrastructure, and it's not the people who LIVE here.

"Save Our Homes" is a classic case of "fuck you, I've got mine!" The so-called "amendment 1" simply increases how much the rest of us are being fucked.

Anyone who supports SAVE OUR HOMES or Amendment 1 is saying "FUCK YOU. I don't care about anyone other than myself. I got mine, FUCK YOU. I'm not paying for fire departments or police departments or hospitals or schools or anyone. I'm barely contributing to society at all. FUCK YOU."

At this point, it's time to offer the sensible alternative.

The PROBLEM with our property tax system is that it's based on VALUE, not SIZE. Value is not a set variable; it can be fiddled with. I can reduce my property's value by not painting it, or allowing it to crumble. Value can depend on things outside my control; or as they say, 'location, location, location!'

I say we scrap that system entirely. No more Fisher Island billionaires getting exemptions because they claim they've been "over valued." No more issues of leaving a big home for a small one but paying a lot more taxes.

Property tax should be based solely on the size of the property. It should use the land and the square footage of the building as the metrics to calculate the base tax rate. Everyone would be paying their fair share, and you would not have the disparity of taxation when you sell one house and move into another.

Amendment 1 does not solve any problems at all; it only expands a very bad system. Vote against it.

Powered by ScribeFire.

No comments:

Post a Comment