We are a non-partisan, not-for profit organization concerned with property tax reform. We want to save the American dream. We feel that by being united we can change a system that is not working and has been responsible for precipitating a major crisis in the State of Florida with the very real fear of people losing their homes and businesses. Many people are choosing to leave Florida altogether throwing in the white towel and admitting defeat. The mood is gloomy and pessimistic. The economy, including the real-estate market, is in a deep, dark recession. Conversely oil and food prices continue to rise with what appears to be no end in sight.
If you haven't done so already, you should obtain one of our bumper stickers and place it on your car immediately. Our bumper sticker is a symbol of unity. After that, you should carefully read everything on this website.
Be aware that unfortunately we continue to receive news that comes in late, lacks in continuity, is fragmented and adulterated so that it may continue to achieve its main purpose which is permanent confusion. If People become sufficiently confused they become disinterested and feel that there is nothing that they can do.
Please read our 5 basic points for property tax reform under Our Proposal.
We have also included a table that shows what your taxes would be based on the exemption and a table for those who qualify as low-income owners.
Our Proposal was drafted into a bill, HJR5C, courtesy of Representative Julio Robaina (R) district 117 and endorsed by Representative Luís R. García (D) district 107. It was supposed to be to be presented to the House. Later the bill was changed to HJR15D. Senator Rudy García (R) district 40 offered to present this bill to the Senate. These are gestures for which we have all been grateful. However, we have been unsuccessful. Unfortunately our proposal was never presented.
The Latest measure (unrelated to our efforts), CS/SJR2D, passed with a 108 to 2 vote on 10/24/2007. This property tax relief plan passed in the House of Representatives preserves Save Our Homes and allows portability as well as a guaranteed Save Our Homes benefit. The last two, portablity and the guaranteed Save Our Homes benefit are written in a very difficult language to comprehend. CS/SJR2D provides a 5% assessment cap for all non-Homestead as well as commerical properties and creates a new tangible personal property exemption of $25,000. It also provides limitations on assessed values of properties used for affordable housing and working water fronts (does not apply to school tax levies). Lastly, it instills accountability for all local property appraisers by requiring every appraiser to be elected.
TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION
The front page headline of The Miami Herald dated Monday, October 29, 2007 says it all: Take it or leave it. It is an egregious, disrespectful dictum that fails to have any consideration or empathy for Floridians and the hardships they are having to endure. It is, simply put, shameful. The statement itself reeks of arrogance as if though it were addressed to peasants in the 14th century.
Going back to measure CS/SJR2D, it was already obvious that in a last minute attempt to present something another more ambiguous proposal was being forged.
This followed with a call for bipartisan acquiescence that in essence expressed that legislators were bound by their parties and not by the constituents that had elected them.
The outcome has become a source of anger, irritation, outrage and for something to be done: from marching in protest and staging demonstrations to some suggesting that perhaps non-payment of taxes is warranted and should be abolished altogether. Many grassroots citizens groups have formed to fight big government.
The implication of this non-solution to the property tax crisis is that for individuals who could otherwise have looked forward to the prospect of owning homes or businesses with the security that it implies will instead have to pay unaffordable rents for the rest of their lives for homes and businesses that they may never own. The matter is even more complicated since outrageous property taxes and outrageous insurance premiums cause owners to the pass the buck on to renters resulting in a housing crisis. Please see "Nowhere to go for low-income renters."
Basically the savings to homeowners under the "tax it or leave it" plan is approximately $250.00 per year. This is hardly taxes falling like a "rock" as Governor Crist promised. Perhaps falling like a tiny pebble is more like it. By what stretch of the imagination can a savings of $250 per year be helpful to anyone?
In essence the legislators have been successful at one thing: In their uncanny ability to be disconnected from what the people need and in failing to offer the much needed relief, they have now awoken the slumbering giant. United, the people will be implacable judges of those that have prevented what could otherwise have been a peaceful revolution. The people will make it known that the legislators have unnecessarily made this into a particularly aggressive situation due to their under appreciation of the seriousness of the matter as well as its gross mismanagement.
Next we face the uphill battle in obtaining 611,000 signed petitions from 25 districts based upon the voters that attended the last presidential election on a special form with an official authorization number with the appropriate legal terminology in order to place OUR PROPOSAL on the ballot so that it can be voted on. No easy task? We shall see. The People vs. the special interest groups $$$$$. Please click here to go our Property Tax Pledge page.
It is not only homeowners who are discontent. In the Miami Herald on November 1, 2007 Florida businesses expressed there disappointment that they would obtain only modest relief if the property tax legislation was approved by voters on January 29, 2008. Please see Firms: Tax relief is lacking.
Everyday we read the headlines regarding the property tax crisis. We are threatened and made to fear tax cuts. Tax cuts are equivocated with cuts in municipalities and the ensuing implicit chaos. For example, November 2, 2007, front page of Metro & State, the article states: Miami-Dade might face painful cuts. This is a classic example of nothing more than a "scare" tactic -make the public think that if they cut taxes, they are not going to pay police officers or fire fighters and that criminals will run amok and people will burn alive in their homes.
Economy-wise, Florida consumers are cutting back on spending across the board as damage from the housing marking decline continues to spread. Ironically, if the state continues to lose revenue, we will continue to be taxed even further in order to supplement the losses. A vicious cycle thus ensues.
November 4, 2007 Miami Herald's editorial: True Tax Reform is really hard work. This editorial points out what is and is not included in the newly approved proposed constitutional amendment on property tax by the legislature. In this plan there are no provisions for low income senior relief or affordable housing relief. Just these two issues alone underscore how inadequate this plan really is. What is included is a doubling of the $25K Homestead Exemption which does not to apply school taxes and thus in actuality lowers the exemption to $40K.
The 10% cap for businesses and non-Homestead properties does not offer any significant relief since although they are quoting an average rate of a less than 5% yearly increase, in actuality, many of these non-Homestead properties have doubled their taxes in the past two years. Therefore the crisis remains unsolved. Portability allowance is virtually non-existent in the present or in the future unless the initial taxation millage is curtailed to 1.5% and the yearly increase to a 3% maximum. Remember that any figures relating to portablity are unclear since no one may accurately predict how many people will move and what tax savings they may have.
So where are we and what is going on? On Saturday, November 10, 2007 we had a telephone conference with approximately 20 people representing various counties who are actively involved in property tax reform. These included Speaker Marco Rubio and Representative Luis Garcia. It was an initial effort to attempt to unify state-wide efforts into one main effort. We feel that this is essential if we are to be successful. Please click here to see email that was sent to the participants.
Basically the emphasis was on formulating a citizen's petition with the knowledge that it was going to be attacked at multiple levels and will require a significant amount of funding. It was acknowledged that we have the opportunity to pass legislation of historic proportions. As a grassroots movement it is essential to pressure House, Senate and other elected officials to take immediate action. Through the use of polling, the issue of property tax should be carefully examined with respect to what the people want and what they will approve. It must answer the questions of how these revenues will be replaced and ultimately the issue of spending must be tackled in the context of somehow capping government expenditures. Ultimately we must focus on a unified proposal and consider the deadlines for having the signed petition(s).
The November 12, 2007 front page of the The Herald published and article and the results of a poll of 800 people regarding the new property tax legislation to be voted upon January 28, 2008. The article is entitled "Voters not sold on property-tax plan."
A majority of those polled felt that the state has gotten pretty seriously off on the wrong track and that legislators performance providing property tax relief for homeowners is fair to poor.
Yet, despite being asked that now that they are more informed about the amendment, asked if the election were to be held today, the majority responded that they would vote yes. Why is this so? Why, if this amendment is perceived as basically worthless and failing to provide any kind of significant tax relief, would the majority of people vote for it? Simply put, the poll is confusing, ambiguous and mixes unrelated issues. In addition, this poll is wrought with problems including a small sample size and does not provide a reasonable statistic analysis.
At present time we are considering a single, simple unified proposal to place on a petition in order to begin to collect signatures. Although previously 1.5% was considered, this is not a sufficient tax cut. Figures have been run at 1.35% that translate roughly into about an $8 billion (26%) cut in the ad valorem tax base. We need unanimious support from the people as well as from all tax reform groups and legislators throughout the State of Florida. We must continue to be united in this effort.
CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT PETITION FORM
1.35% property tax cap, unless voter approved
Provides that the total property tax on any parcel of real property shall never exceed 1.35% of the highest taxable value of the property. This property tax limit shall apply to all property taxes except property taxes approved by voters. Distribution of revenue from parcels that have reached the 1.35% limit shall be determined by general law. Does not amend Save Our Homes, the Homestead Exemption, or any other exemption.
FULL TEXT OF THE PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT:
Article VII, Section 9 of the State Constitution is amended by adding a new Paragraph (c) to read:
ARTICLE VII FINANCE AND TAXATION
SECTION 9. Local taxes.–
(c) Notwithstanding any other provision contained in this Constitution, the maximum amount of all ad valorem taxes collected by counties,
school districts, municipalities, and special districts on any parcel of real property shall not, when combined, exceed 1.35% of the parcel's highest taxable value. The term "taxable value" refers to the value of real property to which millage rates are applied. The Legislature shall, by general law, provide for the distribution of tax revenues derived from parcels for which the combined ad valorem tax levies exceed 1.35% of the parcel's highest taxable value. This subsection does not apply to ad valorem taxes levied for the payment of bonds issued pursuant to Section 12 of this Article or levied for periods not longer than two years when authorized by a vote of the electors.
ARTICLE AND SECTION BEING CREATED OR AMENDED
Article VII, Section 9, Paragraph (c)
Please click here to see .pdf document for Limit on Total Property Taxes Paid by Individual Parcels at 1.35% of Taxable Value.