Florida Legislators Move to Stop Surprise Tax Bills

(PatriotNews.net) – Florida legislators are pushing for a new law to protect homebuyers from unexpected spikes in property tax bills after purchasing a property. The existing “Save Our Homes” assessment limitation caps tax increases for homeowners. However, when ownership changes, the cap is lifted, leading to higher taxes for new owners as property values surge.

Bills HB 295 and SB 380 aim to address this issue by requiring an estimate of post-sale property tax bills for new homeowners. The proposal suggests including a tax estimator tool in residential property listings to enhance transparency and consumer protection. Brevard County Property Appraiser Dana Blickley supports the move, emphasizing the need for transparency and the impact on homebuyers, especially those moving to Florida and first-time buyers.

If approved, the legislation mandates online property listings to feature a property tax estimator tool, calculating the expected tax based on current rates. Additionally, it prohibits real estate agents and agencies from including the current owner’s property taxes in printed materials and social media posts.

The bills are progressing through the legislative committee process, but Pinellas County Property Appraiser Mike Twitty suggests their likelihood of passing as standalone bills is uncertain. Twitty indicates a 50-50 chance of success, depending on whether they are included in a larger tax package considered by the Florida legislature.

Twitty, in a Tampa Bay Times op-ed, highlights the support from various property appraiser associations for the legislation, aiming to protect homeowners in Florida. The “Save Our Homes” assessment limitation, effective since 1994, has shielded primary homeowners with a homestead exemption from excessive tax hikes. However, new buyers often face substantial tax increases due to cap resets following ownership changes.

Amid this, State House Rep. Ryan Chamberlin’s proposal to study the elimination of property taxes in Florida is generating controversy. While Chamberlin argues for a better way, critics raise concerns about alternative revenue sources, likely leading to increased sales taxes in the absence of property taxes. The debate over tax reform in Florida continues.

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