Sen. Jeff Brandes has joined Rep. Jason Fischer in filing legislation that would expand the existing Florida homestead tax exemption.
The lawmakers filed the bills (SJR 1266, HJR 923) to reflect increases in the Housing Price Index, according to a joint news release announcing the proposal. The legislation would block homestead exemption decreases and only allow the exemption to stay the same or increase.
“Our commitment to economic freedom is one of the reasons Florida has avoided the financial woes of so many other states,” Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican, said in a statement. “The people of Florida know how to best use their money, not the government. This inflation is not transitory and taxes on homeowners will continue to rise without the benefit of this adjustment.”
Current state law provides property tax breaks for permanent residents, with homeowners exempt from paying taxes on the first $25,000 of a home value. Applicable homeowners can receive an additional $25,000 exemption, which applies only to non-school taxes, on the value of their home between $50,000-$75,000. The new proposal, however, would provide guidelines that would give the Legislature the ability to increase the current $25,000 homestead tax exemption and prevent it from decreasing it.
“The legislature may, by general law, provide for the periodic increase in the twenty-five thousand dollar exemption that applies to the assessed valuation greater than fifty thousand dollars,” the bill reads.
The state already has a law, the Save our Homes provision, that caps how much property taxes can increase annually for permanent residents, which currently stands at 3%.
“Now more than ever, Floridians need be able to hold onto their hard-earned money,” Fischer said in a statement. “With inflation and housing prices on the rise, expanding the homestead exemption is an obvious opportunity to do right by the people of our state.”
While the proposal targets savings for homeowners, it is unclear how it may affect Florida’s overall affordable housing crisis, which places the brunt on renters. Currently, Florida leads the nation in housing unaffordability — 56.5% of renters spend 30% or more of their income on housing, according to a national rent report from Apartment List.
If the proposal clears the House and Senate, voters would have the chance to approve of it during the 2022 election.