Legislators could OK a tax break for senior citizens—to detriment of schools

Schoolchild raising hand to answer
The exemption would take effect on Jan. 1, 2021 if successful.

A pair of companion measures from GOP lawmakers would provide seniors with an exemption from taxes aimed to benefit local school districts.

The proposals, from Rep. Anthony Rodriguez (HJR 317) and Sen. Manny Diaz (SB 562), would take effect on Jan. 1, 2021 if successful.

“Any real estate that is used as a homestead by a person age 65 or older who has legal or equitable title to the property and who has maintained permanent residence thereon for at least 25 years is exempt from school district levies,” reads the measure from Diaz, who chairs the Senate Education Committee.

Diaz has been criticized by Democrats for pushing for more school choice options, with the worry public schools would be left behind.

That criticism will likely occur here with a measure designed to cut down on school districts’ tax revenue. But Diaz believes the bill can be crafted in a way where school districts aren’t hit too hard.

“This could be crafted in a manner where it provides relief without hurting the operations of schools,” Diaz told POLITICO Pro (subscription required). “It’s a high wire act.”

POLITICO’s Andrew Atterbury cited AARP numbers showing about 3.3 million homeowners in the state aged 65 or older. But it’s unclear how many of those seniors have owned their home for at least 25 years, and thus would qualify for the exemption.

The Rodriguez measure has been referred to three committees in the House: the Education Committee, Appropriations Committee and the Ways and Means Committee, where it currently sits. Diaz’s bill was sent to the Community Affairs Committee, the Finance and Tax Committee and the Appropriations Committee.

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to [email protected].

One comment

  • John Jordan

    January 30, 2019 at 4:14 pm

    Cuts funding to charter and public schools?

    How do children in “older” counties not become second class students through unevenly reduced funding?

    What will the cost be in terms of real estate slumping as retirees who can afford to step up to a newr or nicer house decline as they hold on to the exemption?

Comments are closed.


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