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Homestead Property Tax Discount for Spouses of Deceased Veterans Amendment

Summary

Provides that the homestead property tax discount for certain veterans with permanent combat-related disabilities carries over to such veteran’s surviving spouse who holds legal or beneficial title to, and who permanently resides on, the homestead property, until he or she remarries or sells or otherwise disposes of the property. The discount may be transferred to a new homestead property of the surviving spouse under certain conditions. The amendment takes effect January 1, 2021.[3]

 

The measure would amend section 6 of Article VII and Article XII of the state constitution, as follows: 

Article VII, Section 6

HOMESTEAD EXEMPTIONS
(2) If a veteran who receives the discount described in paragraph (1) predeceases his or her spouse, and if, upon the death of the veteran, the surviving spouse holds the legal or beneficial title to the homestead property and permanently resides thereon, the discount carries over to the surviving spouse until he or she remarries or sells or otherwise disposes of the homestead property. If the surviving spouse sells or otherwise disposes of the property, a discount not to exceed the dollar amount granted from the most recent ad valorem tax roll may be transferred to the surviving spouse’s new homestead property, if used as his or her permanent residence and he or she has not remarried. 

Article XII

Text of Section 36

Ad valorem tax discount for surviving spouses of certain permanently disabled veterans.—The amendment to Section 6 of Article VII, relating to the ad valorem tax discount for spouses of certain deceased veterans who had permanent, combat-related disabilities, and this section shall take effect January 1, 2021.[3]  


LPF Stance: No Position

Description

If approved, this would allow combat-injured veterans to transfer Save Our Homes homestead exemption benefits to their spouses after death.

 

Libertarian Party of Florida Platform

I. State Government

  1. Private Property and Markets: 

Private property is all property owned by non-government entities. We recognize the rights to private property and self-ownership as a basic human rights. Therefore, one of the functions of government is to protect the private property rights of all persons under its jurisdiction. This includes private entities having the right to voluntarily transfer ownership of their private property, free of government price or quantity controls, intervention or taxation.

VI. Paying for Government

  1. Ending Tax Favoritism: 

As long as we have taxes, equal protection of the law requires that for each type of tax, the rates should be the same and the tax base should be calculated in the same way for every individual or business.

There should be no abatements, subsidies, credits, refunds or other preferential treatments as incentives to businesses to invest or create jobs, or as a privilege to individuals or classes of individuals, such as age, race or location. Such tax favoritism should be unconstitutional.

 

Discussion

The 1992 Save Our Homes Amendment places a cap on the increases of the assessed value of a homesteaded residence in Florida. The original intent was to decrease taxes on homesteaded properties in Florida by placing caps on the appraised value on homes and land. It didn’t do that.

While the Libertarian Party of Florida welcomes any chance to decrease taxes, SOH created several problems in it’s attempt to curtail increasing Florida property taxes. For example, while SOH places a cap on the assessed value of a residence, it fails to address the tax rates themselves. Those taxes can be incrementally increased each year regardless of a property’s value. Indeed, they often are increased to compensate for the SOH limits. Similarly, the legally arbitrary homestead exemption itself shifts the burden of these taxes from homesteaded property owners to non-homestead property owners, who receive no such exemption. They pay even higher taxes as a result.

Similar arguments were made in the past about SOH adjustments. In 2008, Florida TaxWatch argued against Amendment 1 on the basis that portability transfers—as we see in the current Amendment 5—represented a constitutional challenge. They also argued the burden was placed on non-homesteaded homeowners who have seen the largest tax increases in Florida, creating an obvious and unfair tax disadvantage. The Miami Herald also urged a “No” vote because adjustments to the homestead exemption only further complicated Florida’s now incomprehensible “archaic tax system.”

Likewise, the LPF welcomes any opportunity to cut taxes and honor our veterans, such programs should be universally applied for all spouses in Florida and indeed, all taxpayers. We believe we should focus our efforts on cutting government spending and taxation rather than playing games with property values. Only with responsible spending will that burden ease for all.  Nonetheless, the LPF takes No Position on Amendment 6.

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