Florida Homestead Services - Florida Homestead Exemption Act Forum
Visit our main website at Florida Homestead Services.com
 | Forums | Sign Up | Reply | Search | Statistics |
In the News Florida Homestead Services - Florida Homestead Exemption Act Forum / In the News /  

Judge dismisses Save Our Homes challenge

Author johnbsims3
Admin Male

#1 | Posted: 7 Aug 2007 05:59 
Alabama citizens said they have to pay an unfair amount of taxes on their second homes in the Panhandle. A Florida judge disagreed, but the plaintiffs' attorney said he will appeal.

Posted on Tue, Aug. 07, 2007

TALLAHASSEE -- The Florida law that shifted about $7.8 billion in property taxes from homesteaders to all other property owners this year is ''even-handed'' and not discriminatory, a Tallahassee judge ruled Monday.

Circuit Judge John C. Cooper dismissed a suit filed by Alabama citizens who say they're paying an unconstitutional amount of taxes for second homes in the Panhandle.

The judge, basing his ruling on higher court opinions, ruled from the bench that the voter-approved Save Our Homes constitutional amendment did not violate the U.S. Constitution's equal-protection and right-to-travel provisions.

The plaintiff's lead attorney, William Slaughter, said he was ''not at all surprised'' by the ruling because the case is fraught with ''political angst,'' judges such as Cooper are locally elected and ``even the Supreme Court reads election returns.''

Slaughter, whose wife was once listed as a plaintiff, said he plans to take the case to the nation's highest court.

Along the way, he'll stop at Florida's Supreme Court and the state's First District Court of Appeal, which issued the Reinish v. Clark opinion in 2000 that held that Save Our Homes is constitutional.

''It's not my role to attack or try to change what the First District has clearly found,'' the judge said. ``I find that the Save Our Homes amendment . . . is not facially unconstitutional because its provisions do not treat local and interstate commerce differently.''

Noting that anyone can get a homestead exemption if they move to Florida, the judge said the ''even-handed regulation'' promotes ``the legitimate strong public interest in promoting the stability and continuity of a primary permanent home.''

Cooper said his ruling should not affect the recently passed legislation to cut property taxes and to ask citizens on Jan. 29 to eventually scrap Save Our Homes in favor of a system of super-exemptions for homesteaded property owners.

House Speaker Marco Rubio of West Miami and Senate Democratic leader Steve Geller of Cooper City repeatedly mentioned the threat of the lawsuit this spring in their respective drives to change the tax code.

Save Our Homes caps homesteads' assessed property-value increases at 3 percent annually. All other properties get assessed at full-market value. As a result, about $400 billion in homestead-assessed value wasn't taxed this year, shifting nearly $8 billion to non-homesteaders and first-time home buyers.

Slaughter, the plaintiffs' attorney, noted the discrepancy will get bigger and bigger. He said he hopes Florida's justices will recognize this.

''Who knows?'' he said. ``Somewhere on the road to Damascus the Florida Supreme Court may have an epiphany.''

Meantime, the Alabamans will have to render unto Caesar in Destin and the counties of Okaloosa and Walton that they sued.

In the News Florida Homestead Services - Florida Homestead Exemption Act Forum / In the News /
Judge dismisses Save Our Homes challenge
Your Reply Click this icon to move up to the quoted message

Only registered users are allowed to post here. Please, enter your username/password details upon posting a message, or register first.
  Powered by Forum Software miniBB®