‘It’s time’: Lawmakers look at abolishing property taxes in Florida

AP For Sale Propety Taxes
If adopted, the policy would make Florida the first in the nation without a state income or property tax.

A controversial idea is again gaining ground in the Legislature: eliminating property taxes and replacing them with a new “consumption tax” tacked onto the sales of goods and services across the state.

The change, said Republican Rep. Ryan Chamberlin, would put an end to what some have called “the most hated tax in America.”

“I believe it’s time,” he told members of the House Ways and Means Committee, which voted 15-6 for a measure (HB 1371) Chamberlin is sponsoring to study shifting a huge tax burden from homeowners to consumers.

If passed, the bill would direct the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) to examine the likely impact. A report would be due Feb. 1, 2025.

Chamberlin, a freshman Republican lawmaker from Belleview, offered two reasons property taxes need to go. The first, he said, is that they create an arrangement under which homeowners never truly own their domiciles.

“We all simply rent it from the state, and as long as we pay those rents, then we can use the property we hold a deed for,” he said. “This is not a tax; it is slavery.”

The second reason, he continued, is that property taxes increase regardless of whether a homeowner sells their house because the rate is based on unrealized gains — an arrangement ludicrous in most other scenarios.

“Think about it. If the IRS started charging us a tax not just on your income but what they thought we could have earned, we would have riots in the streets,” he said. “Yet we get a property tax increase every year on most of our properties in Florida not based on any realized gain in our bank account but based on what the gain could be if we decided to sell it.”

Chamberlin said that if Florida adopts the change his bill contemplates, it would “not just be the most prosperous state in the country (but) the most prosperous economy in the world.”

Some on the panel were less enthusiastic.

Orlando Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani said local governments would have less incentive to maintain property values under Chamberlin’s proposed tax model. She also noted that state lawmakers shot down proposals like decades ago when U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Rep. Dan Webster served as Speakers in the Florida House.

Webster, she said, “rejected it as not a good idea” because depending too much on a single revenue source, particularly one reliant on spending, is unsustainable in times of economic recession.

“(When) gas costs more, you drive less,” she said. “And honestly, at the end of the day, if you don’t diversify your income (streams), we’re putting ourselves in a place of economic crisis intentionally.”

She suggested a more comprehensive study of tax alternatives, calling Chamberlin’s bill “way too targeted towards what has been already proven by economists, even conservative economists, as not being a smart direction to go.”

Belleview Republican Ryan Chamberlin, who won his House District 24 seat in a Special Election in May, is taking big legislative swings during his first Session. Image via Florida House.

Boynton Beach Democratic Rep. Joe Casello — who voted “no” on the bill alongside Republican Rep. Sam Killebrew and fellow Democrats Eskamani, Dianne Hart, Allison Tant and Susan Valdés — worried how the change would affect first responder services.

He also argued Floridians aren’t necessarily losing their homes because of property taxes but because of homeowners insurance, on which a study is more merited.

Valdés added that leaning more heavily on sales tax revenues would disproportionately hurt lower-income residents for whom the cost of goods and services make up a larger portion of their income.

Their sentiments echo local officials’ concerns about a similar proposal in Michigan, where the revenue burden would shift from property taxes to income and sales taxes. An independent 2017 examination of a repeatedly proposed plan in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to kill school property taxes determined it would create a windfall for businesses and wealthy school districts while costing middle-class taxpayers more.

According to the Tax Foundation, Florida ranks 26th nationwide in property taxes paid as a percentage of household value (0.91%) and 29th in state and local property tax collections per capita ($1,541).

Property taxes are Florida’s second-largest source of per capita revenue after federal transfers, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data by the Urban Institute, a Washington-based think tank.

West Palm Beach Republican Rep. Rick Roth said he is “beyond excited” about Chamberlin’s measure, which he believes has support from House leadership, including Speaker Paul Renner and Speaker-designate Daniel Perez.

He posited that unburdening properties from taxes would have a multiplier effect, leading to a larger rate of homeownership and more economic security.

“And also, we’ll lower the cost of rental property because the rental property owners won’t have to pay property taxes,” he said.

Deltona Republican Rep. Webster Barnaby heaped further praise on HB 1371, which does not have a Senate companion, according to the chamber’s website.

“We’ve got to be able to live in our homes and one day know that we own the house,” he said. “This is not about how we take care of cities and municipalities. This is about fundamental fairness to Florida taxpayers. Do you own your house? That’s the question. And I want to know that every Floridian that pays their mortgage owns their house.”

House disclosures show the Florida Association of Property Appraisers, Property Appraisers’ Association of Florida, Florida Association of Counties and Osceola County lobbied on HB 1371, which has two more committee stops before reaching a floor vote.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


50 comments

  • PeterH

    January 31, 2024 at 3:36 pm

    The primary reason that Florida residents pay zero tax on their income is directly tied to the State of Florida being the third largest recipient of the US treasury’s hand outs!

    Basically Florida, like South Carolina and most other ‘red’ states are grifter states.

    • Ronald W Wood

      February 1, 2024 at 11:26 am

      Or maybe it’s because Florida is the third largest state. Ya think ?

    • Leah Brooks

      February 1, 2024 at 11:28 am

      Well yes, of course. It’s the third largest state by population. California receives the most from the US Treasury, because it is the largest state by population.

    • Leah Brooks

      February 1, 2024 at 11:31 am

      It’s pretty wild that California receives almost 3x the money that Florida does, considering California has a less than twice the population. California also has a much higher tax base because it has the wealthiest population.
      Federal Aid last year:
      California ($116.0 billion)
      New York ($79.2 billion)
      Texas ($68.2 billion)
      Florida ($41.7 billion)

      • Gregg Logan

        February 12, 2024 at 11:46 am

        Historically California has been a donor State, contributing more to the Federal Government that it receives though more recently it’s close to break even, while Florida takes more than it gives.

    • bo navajo

      February 2, 2024 at 12:32 pm

      You are a SFB DA. The real reason is we voted for no income tax. Please do all us FLORIDANS a huge favor stay the hell out of our business tend to your own biz.

  • PDS

    January 31, 2024 at 6:25 pm

    You always virtue signal by saying “It will disproportionately affect low income people.” 67.9% of Floridians own a home. Homeowners are dispotionately funding the education of all K12 students, as well as providing for first responders.

    I’m not a fan of doing away with property taxes just to replace it with higher sales taxes. In the end we would all be paying much more of our income in taxes.

    • Phil

      January 31, 2024 at 10:47 pm

      Property taxes are a regressive tax that negatively impact lower income renters. Homeowners with homestead exemptions have protections from rate increases not afforded to lower income renters. The higher rates of property tax paid by non homesteaded rental property owners are passed onto their renters

      • JOHN

        February 1, 2024 at 7:06 pm

        I doubt very much that I would be paying any where near the approximate $8,000 per year I pay on just my home! Not to mention the other $3500 on a rent house! Paying a higher sales tax etc would be a relief!

    • Thomas O

      February 1, 2024 at 9:30 am

      Should mean lower rents for low income people . Smaller government is more pressing than ever given the shortage of workers and the ability of government to waste most spending. Schools should be supported by consumption taxes . We still need to maintain safety nets but consumption taxes with two tiers , home made or foreign made (China) goods. Why are we not taxing China more , after all they are digitally attacking all of us.

      • Bill Kaelin

        February 1, 2024 at 10:39 am

        So, if a person leaves one school district to shop in another school district, do his sales taxes go to his home district or to the one he shops in?

    • JD

      February 1, 2024 at 9:38 am

      Well, using the K12 student angle, 67.9% is a failing grade by most metrics in school (we could get into how our property taxes are funding grifter strip mall voucher schools, but that’s another thread).

      I think if you are going to do away with the property taxes, its should be for owner occupied primary residences to encourage home ownership. Not a blanket removal. It would be abused by large corporate entities and I’m tired of welfare for the affluent and bootstraping for everyone else with tax monies.

      And I completely agree, this would just be replacing property tax with a higher sales tax

      But I am a tad fuzzy on the definition of a consumption tax – is this the same as a VAT (value added tax)?

  • Brenda Lee

    January 31, 2024 at 7:23 pm

    Typical BS from a democrat. How about actually working on something that will pass????

    • Devan

      February 1, 2024 at 8:36 am

      He’s a Republican.

      • Susan McCunn

        February 4, 2024 at 12:29 am

        RINO???

    • Courtney

      February 2, 2024 at 3:45 pm

      These are Republicans , and that makes sense.

  • Nicholas coke

    January 31, 2024 at 7:37 pm

    Getting rid of property tax would be a great thing for all people of Florida by getting rid of property tax rent price will go down 35% on all homeowners house will go down 50% because of property tax mortgage rate is very high and property tax rate is very high because it go off the price of the property so if you bought a house for $1 million you will pay $20,000 in property tax just imagine the more the property price go up are the more the sales price go up the more property tax you paid I think could be a great idea to shift the burn on all people of Florida everyone so raising the sale tax is the best thing could ever happen and I supported 1000% if you get rid of property tax buying a second home will not be a big problem because if your homestead and you move out the property your tax will go up 1,000,000% and the property you buy will start over you can save like 10% on moving into the new property but just imagine what would happen to your second home it’s like you will lose it I think the economy will be much better and Florida will be a better place to live and all people will move here and make it a better place for all

    • JD

      February 1, 2024 at 9:49 am

      My taxes are 15% of my tenant’s rent.

      My insurance is 36% of my tenants rent.

      Tenants would be helped far better by insurance relief, but I’m skeptical landlords would drop the rent if they got a break (unless made to by law and we all know that would go over like a fart in church).

    • Bill

      February 1, 2024 at 4:49 pm

      Punctuation is your friend.

    • Alan

      February 1, 2024 at 5:21 pm

      Do you really believe landlords will lower rents because they are paying less taxes? What world are you living in?

  • Steve Braswell

    January 31, 2024 at 7:53 pm

    I totally agree with this proposal but I think there needs to be an equal proposal to reduce rents by whatever calculation the property taxes are reduced. The problem with property taxes they never go down which causes everything to go up. A higher state sales tax would give the state a great deal more surplus in the bank than property taxes bring in.

  • Adele

    January 31, 2024 at 8:29 pm

    How high will the sales tax go up? Also removing property tax, prevents having a deduction on your federal taxes.

    • PatJo

      February 1, 2024 at 11:01 am

      Federal itemized deductions are capped at $10,000 for sales or property taxes.

  • Dawn Yarley

    January 31, 2024 at 9:09 pm

    People who have bought there homes, and pay property taxes every single year is outrageous! You never actually own your own home. Senior citizens who go on a fixed income are at high risk of having their homes stolen from them for not paying property taxes! After paying them for years! It’s unjust.

    • Dave Young

      February 1, 2024 at 12:17 pm

      You own a House, Not Land

      you LEASE the land your house sits on by paying your property taxes

      this concept is bogus and will leave folks with less money and the State removing almost all services

      the Next Bright move will be increasing Water Charges for Local Governments to pull in the missing money from their Coffers!

      you don’t like the value going up on the home, DO AWAY WITH MORTGAGES!

      The Refinance Movement is the CAUSE of your Problem, nothing else

      • PatJo

        February 1, 2024 at 2:40 pm

        Being in my 70’s and retired, I have seen my property taxes rise every year. I don’t have a mortgage, but the value (and the tax bill) is still increasing. The taxing bodies keep raising the rates to get a revenue raise every year. Must be nice. We have to pay or forfeit our home. The tax bill is now more than our house note was twenty years ago.!

    • Dee

      February 1, 2024 at 6:18 pm

      I agree. I live in a home that I own with my mother, daughter and 2 grandsons. The house is paid for but we struggle every year at Christmas time to pay the high taxes. I worry if I get sick and can no longer work what would happen to everyone. It would be sink or swim. I believe our homes should be our homes once we pay them off and the money for schools etc… should come from everyone who drives into our state to live, shop, vacation… etc…

  • Mike

    January 31, 2024 at 10:41 pm

    I can see only benefits to getting rid of property taxes. This will benefit low income people also, since many low income people and middle income people have been in danger of losing homes due to a lost job. Its time to end that insanity and make property something families really own rather than give the government the right to evict them from their homes. This along with encouraging more investment into home construction will help make homeownership more affordable. Something like the Fair Tax could be implemented to give a welfare payment to low income persons to offset the sales tax for them.

  • William

    February 1, 2024 at 6:05 am

    You never own your property, you really rent/ lease it,as with the school taxes,that is absurd,especially if you don’t have kids in school,people who have kids in schools should pay that tax,it’s the highest tax on ones property tax bill,and taxing us to pay the school board payroll is crazy ,my neighbor doesn’t pay me to go to work,now the citizens should contribute to ems/ fire depts,library,because we may need/ or use them,but let’s think about it,” lottery contributes billions to schools”; property taxes should be done away with,you should get a bill yearly for ems/ fire, library,and clean streets.

  • luis casillas

    February 1, 2024 at 7:31 am

    This article is a contradiction because the the title states “abolishing property taxes but the first sentence refers to state income and sales taxes”. Proofreading is a basic step while writing.

  • Anthony Kanaris

    February 1, 2024 at 8:26 am

    “This is not a tax; it is slavery.” Let’s dial down the rhetoric, Mr. Chamberlin.

  • Richard C Russell

    February 1, 2024 at 8:48 am

    How about cutting the waste in government, by eliminating the dead wood employees who drive up the cost of government and contribute nothing to the quality of life for Floridians. On a national basis, government is the fastest growing industry, destroying the quality of life for normal, hard working Americans!

    • PatJo

      February 1, 2024 at 11:06 am

      Money saved from the layoff of the thousands of employees in the offices of property tax appraisers and collectors will be enormous!

  • Jonathan Swift

    February 1, 2024 at 12:53 pm

    Property Taxes are a hold over from when the King owned everything and we paid him for our use of it. It was too convenient for the original 13 States to continue it.

    If we have a Government based on the consent of the governed we should at least have a periodic vote on the type of taxes we have, rather than a continuation of “we have always done it that way”.

    Neither I nor anyone I elected ever voted whether or not to have an income tax or a property tax or any other kind of tax, except a local sales tax.

    Why not vote to reauthorize each tax once a decade rather than be taxed because our great-grandfathers or great-great-grandfathers voted for someone who thought a certain tax would be a good idea?

    My great-great-grandmothers didn’t get to vote for the people who thought passing an income tax to tax only the rich would be a good idea. We were lied to about the fact that the income tax would only be paid for by the rich. Let’s have another vote on the issue!

  • PatJo

    February 1, 2024 at 2:57 pm

    Here is a good one for 99% of the people that don’t know how the property taxes are rigged. Check out Florida Stature 193.461 and you will see that the taxable base value for farmland is fixed at $500 an acre. John Q. Citizen paid $50,000 for his 1-acre lot. He will pay ONE HUNDRED TIMES MORE TAX ON HIS ONE ACRE LOT that is in front of the tree farm! How fair is that?

    A sales tax is based on the value of what you spend! Buy a KIA, you pay less sales tax than the guy who buys a Mercedes with the money he saves on his farmland property taxes!

  • Mr. Haney

    February 1, 2024 at 3:33 pm

    Republicans are retards shilling for whomever has purchased them

    • Courtney

      February 2, 2024 at 3:48 pm

      Agreed, I already don’t trust them for still supporting that liar so what’s makes me think this isn’t some way to benefit their wealthy donors.

  • Remigia Zerillo

    February 2, 2024 at 6:39 am

    I agree with eliminating the property taxes because they are high. They should only eliminate the property taxes to a homestead property meaning a primary resident. The rental properties should pay some taxes because they are receiving income and that makes it an investment.

  • Steve

    February 2, 2024 at 10:10 am

    Notice that Democrats Oppose this idea. That is because they continue to want to keep the poor enslaved to them.

  • Alex

    February 2, 2024 at 3:58 pm

    I’ve always said rent because property taxes are brutal. You never own your home taxes and insurance are the way they rape us everyday.

  • Susan McCunn

    February 4, 2024 at 12:39 am

    Get property insurance under control! Or electricity. Homeowners insurance has gotten out of hand . Just had rates almost double and NEVER made a claim.

  • Glass

    February 4, 2024 at 4:04 pm

    Wouldn’t this make everything in Florida cost drastically more, and destroy tourism?

    • Dr. Franklin Waters

      February 5, 2024 at 3:30 pm

      Yes. We’d see 25% sales tax, then a bunch of malls popping up right on the Georgia border to siphon money directly out of the Florida treasury.
      Only a complete moron would propose something like this.

  • T Price

    February 5, 2024 at 2:47 am

    They could eliminate Property taxes and replace it with income taxes if the property taxes aren’t ‘fair’.

  • Linwood Wright

    February 5, 2024 at 3:28 pm

    Worked out great for Kansas when they tried this. LOL

  • Quinton Rowe

    February 7, 2024 at 9:23 am

    Florida is a predominantly red state, the senators are crooked nevertheless the people keep them,they keep close friendships with the insurance companies who gives them donations for their campaign and by extension enrichment of themselves do you really think these Republicans care about anyone except themselves!

  • PatJo

    February 7, 2024 at 5:30 pm

    The dumocrats care about everyone and everything, as long as they can force the citizens to pay for it. And don’t question how they spend our tax dollars. Just shut-up and open your wallet. Thankfully, demoncrat politicians aren’t on the take. All of them have opened their homes to the illegal aliens crossing the southern border… I just woke up to find my tongue stuck to my cheek.

  • David Falk

    February 8, 2024 at 11:49 am

    I worked for the IRS for 32 years and nothing is simple as it might appear. In my estimation the property tax is the easiest to enforce. There is a very solid record trail and is very hard to cheat on. Sales tax would be a nightmare. It is based upon a business reporting its proper income. Guess what over the years I have dealt with many who have not. Proving income is one of the hardest things for an auditor to do. Also collecting the tax is another issue. The IRS ran into many times when an employer would withhold taxes and SS and never pay them over. By the time IRS figured it out the owner was long gone or bankrupt. The same would happen with a sales tax. You would need a substantial trained staff to collect a sales tax because of the almost infinite way you could cheat the system.

    Then there is the issue of localities being willing to pay for something that others are not. Where I came from we had one of the best library systems in the country and we constantly voted on taxes to support the library. A statewide sales tax would not allow for local communities to make a decision on how to and how much to spend the money but some generic formula for the distribution. Then who would allocate the sales tax income.

    Florida’s Homestead exemption is unfair. Because I bought my house let’s say last year I can be paying twice as much as somebody who bought theirs 20 years ago for a house that has the same value.

    Any system can be unfair, hard to enforce and riddled with problems. Let the task force do its study and see what it comes up with.

  • Gia Randall

    February 10, 2024 at 11:16 am

    Does anyone know how abolishing property taxes would decrease insurance cost? I read that in a different article.
    Insurance has quadrupled in 2 years for our condominium complex and caused a $200 HOA increase per mo for 2024. This is in addition to individual policies each owner pays.
    And because of state mandates, SB4 and demanding fully funded reserves, they will increase another 200/mo next year. Many people living here have no mortgage, are on fixed incomes, and can’t afford to live in a home they have paid off! I will be paying $1000/mo for a home I “own”. These are not luxury homes by any means.
    Insurance is our #1 expense and unless there is a major claim we don’t even use it.
    If ins increases again, we’re going to probably sell at a loss.

  • gatorgab

    February 13, 2024 at 12:10 am

    There are some very complex issues that must be reviewed. Are we talking about ELIMINATING property taxes? If so, we would need to implement a European level VAT to make up the revenues. That means a sales tax of 20 to 25%. Would that be enough to drive people to go to Georgia to buy a new car? A boat? Or will there be a mechanism to collect a Florida VAT from Florida residents shopping in another state? This could decimate some of our industries. Will there be any exemptions? Groceries? Medicines? It may be more reasonable to shoot for a lower sales tax (10%?), with a reduced property tax millage rate allowed. There should also be a maximum cap on property taxes for homesteaded personal property. I currently pay over $12,000 every year in property taxes and have never had kids in public schools and am retired.

Comments are closed.


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