Amendment Profiles: # 6 & # 7

There are two anti-tax amendments on the ballot: Amendment 6 would allow local governments to double the homestead exemption; Amendment 7 would provide a property tax cut to partially disabled veterans equal to their degree of disability, if the disability is combat-related. Given the building fervor over increasing property taxes, these amendments will probably pass.

Amendment 6

Proposing amendment of the State Constitution to increase the maximum additional homestead exemption for low-income seniors from $25,000 to $50,000 and to schedule the amendment to take effect January 1, 2007, if adopted.

There are big problems with this proposal. When additional property is exempt from local taxation, it reduces the amount of taxes available to local governments. While proponents would argue that effect is a good thing, we at the State of Sunshine realize that governments never reduce overall funding. To the contrary, that money will be replaced.

Some Local governments will raise local millage rates, something that has not been done in parts of Florida in over a decade. Moreover, commercial property owners and rental property owners will not have this protection, so their annual appraisals could be larger – raising property taxes and making it more expensive to run a business or rent an apartment.

Additionally, when people purchase a new home, they could see also see a larger increase in the appraisal of the newly purchased property. The Save Our Homes amendment caps the annual increase in appraised value unless the property is sold. Because of the hot real estate market, homes that are being sold after more than a decade under the cap, already see a big bump in appraised value. That bump will be even larger if this amendment passes. This applies to people who upsize or downsize their existing homes, as well as first-time home buyers.

Therefore, the State of Sunshine recommends voting NO on Amendment 6.

Amendment 7

Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to provide a discount from the amount of ad valorem tax on the homestead of a partially or totally permanently disabled veteran who is age 65 or older who was a Florida resident at the time of entering military service, whose disability was combat-related, and who was honorably discharged; to specify the percentage of the discount as equal to the percentage of the veteran’s permanent service-connected disability; to specify qualification requirements for the discount; to authorize the Legislature to waive the annual application requirement in subsequent years by general law; and to specify that the provision takes effect December 7, 2006, is self-executing, and does not require implementing legislation.

At first glance, it seems fair to provide this benefit to those who sacrificed their abilities to protect our freedoms. Veterans disabled by combat-related injuries bear the scars of their sacrifices, living with them for the rest of their lives. Every veterans who sacrificed and placed themselves in jeopardy to fight for our freedom also deserve our thanks and undying gratitude.

This includes those fortunate veterans who returned without a combat-related injury. Moreover, police officers, fire fighters, and other emergency response personnel place their lives on the line to protect us here at home. Teachers, especially those in lower socio-economic areas and failing schools, make significant sacrifices to heed the call to educate our future generations. By singling out disabled veterans for this special benefit, we are ignoring large numbers of other Floridians.

Therefore, the State of Sunshine recommends voting NO on Amendment 7.

About Jim Johnson

Editor and publisher of The State of Sunshine.
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