tax.jpgWith Florida’s 2017 Regular Session officially adjourned on May 8, 2017, only 203 bills (of the total 1,606 general bills filed) survived both chambers of the Legislature.

From the handful of legislation that ultimately passed this year, Joint Resolution CS/HJR 21 was enacted. This resolution proposes an amendment to the State’s Constitution that would limit a local government’s authority to assess non-homestead real property for purposes of ad valorem taxation.

Background

Under Florida’s Constitution, ad valorem taxation is expressly reserved to local governments. The state is prohibited from levying ad valorem taxes on real and tangible personal property.

When preparing an annual assessment, the State Constitution also generally requires that all property be assessed at just value (i.e., market value) on January 1st of each year. Thereafter, such assessments are used to calculate property taxes to fund counties, municipalities, district school boards and certain special districts.

Florida’s Existing Limitations on Assessments for Non-Homestead Property

For real property that has not qualified for a homestead exemption under the applicable provisions of ch. 196, Florida Statutes, Florida’s voters approved a 2008 constitutional amendment which now limits the authority of local governments to increase non-homestead property tax assessments in excess of 10% each year (not applicable to school board assessments, years following a qualified improvement, or any year property undergoes a change in ownership or control).

Under the provisions previously approved by the 2008 amendment, Florida’s annual limitation on increases for non-homestead assessments is scheduled to expire on January 1, 2019.

CS/HJR 21

Following the Legislature’s recent passage of Joint Resolution CS/HJR 21, a new constitutional amendment will now be proposed to Florida’s voters during the 2018 general election which, if approved by a supermajority (60%) of voters, will permanently extend our state’s current 10% annual cap on non-homestead ad valorem tax assessments.

So What’s the Legal Scoop?

As this legislation will not be subject to a gubernatorial veto, Florida’s new constitutional amendment will become effective on January 1, 2019, if it is approved by the 2018 electorate.

Given the number of  flourishing local businesses, vacation rentals, and secondary homes throughout Southwest Florida, which have recently benefitted from the 10% annual cap on non-homestead ad valorem assessments, a strong voter turnout in support of this measure is expected in 2018.

If you have any general questions regarding ad valorem property taxes in Florida or the recent approval of CS/HJR 21, please feel free to contact me at 239-344-1178 or via email at austin.turner@henlaw.com.