We are back with another proposed property tax exemption amendment to the Florida Constitution as part of our daily series covering one amendment each day. Today is Amendment 9 which reads:
“Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to authorize the Legislature to provide by general law ad valorem homestead property tax relief to the surviving spouse of a military veteran who died from service-connected causes while on active duty or to the surviving spouse of a first responder who died in the line of duty. The amendment authorizes the Legislature to totally exempt or partially exempt such surviving spouse’s homestead property from ad valorem taxation. The amendment defines a first responder as a law enforcement officer, a correctional officer, a firefighter, an emergency medical technician, or a paramedic. This amendment shall take effect January 1, 2013.”
Amendment 9 does a good job in explaining precisely what it does by increasing the homestead exemption for surviving spouses to military veterans or first responders such as firefighters and police officers. Since Florida does not allow same sex couples to legally marry, it would not include the husband or wife of a same sex couple that was not legally married at the time of death. The overall impact of the amendment is relatively minimal as it is estimated to affect the entire state only $1 million in less property taxes collected. It would dramatically reduce the property tax bill of those affected and in some cases eliminated them entirely.
Opponents would argue tax policy does not belong in the state’s constitution and the state should not be offering tax breaks to specialized groups. It would also raise the property taxes of those around the protected class to compensate for the loss in revenue the amendment would create. As noted earlier, this is a relatively minimal sum unless you live in an area with a high concentration of surviving spouses of veterans or first responders.
The Libertarian Party of Florida (LPF) is in support of Amendment 9 and issued this statement about it:
“For the same reasons stated in support of Amendment 2, the LPF recommends a “YES” vote on Amendment 9 in order to continue to reduce the property tax burden on Floridians resulting in a less taxes collected by the state and a limiting of the size and scope of government. The LPF will continue to work to reduce the property tax for all Floridians with the ultimate goal of complete elimination.”
The AFL-CIO of Florida is also supporting the measure, which is interesting because normally the AFL-CIO are often in disagreement with the LPF.