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Florida Property Tax Limit, Amendment 3 (2010)

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A Florida Property Tax Limit, Amendment 3 initiative did not appear on the November 2, 2010 ballot as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment.

The proposal called for limiting the maximum annual increase in the assessed values of nonhomestead property to 5%. Additionally, it called for providing a $25,000 exemption for people who had not owned a "prinicpal property" in the previous 8 years.[1][2]

Less than a day following the July 22 court hearings, Circuit Judge John Cooper ruled that Amendment 3 should be removed from the ballot. According to reports, the ruling was expected to be appealed.[3]

Text of measure

According to the Florida Department of Elections the summary of the measure read as follows:[4]

The State Constitution generally limits the maximum annual increase in the assessed value of nonhomestead property to 10 percent annually. This proposed amendment reduces the maximum annual increase in the assessed values of those properties to 5 percent annually. This amendment also requires the Legislature to provide an additional homestead exemption for persons who have not owned a principal residence during the preceding 8 years. Under the exemption, 25 percent of the just value of a first-time homestead, up to $100,000, will be exempt from property taxes. The amount of the additional exemption will decrease in each succeeding year for 5 years by the greater of 20 percent of the initial additional exemption or the difference between the just value and the assessed value of the property. The additional exemption will not be available in the 6th and subsequent years.

Opponents

  • Florida TaxWatch released a study in March 2010 titled "When Good Policies Go Bad: Unintended Economic Consequences of Assessment Caps." In addition to reviewing past history, TaxWatch argues that Amendment 3 would: lower tax revenue for local governments, impede local governments, reduce real estate activity, reduce jobs and compensation for transaction facilitators, create reliance on other types of taxes and complicate the system, and impede the economy in general.[5]

Lawsuit

See also: 2010 ballot measure litigation

The Florida AFL-CIO and Jacksonville resident Brian K. Doyle filed a lawsuit challenging proposed Amendment 3. Both argue that the title and summary of the amendment are flawed. Specifically they said that the text does not mention the purchase date. The proposal would have given people who haven't owned a home for at least 8 years an addition, temporary homestead exemption. The exemption would have only applied to residence purchases on or after January 1, 2010.[6]

Additionally, plaintiffs argued that the title and the summary conflicted because the title stated that the exemption applied to "new homestead owners," while the summary stated that it applied to "a first-time homestead." The provision, however, allowed for previous homeowners to qualify.[6]

In response to the filed lawsuit, the state said the title and summary accurately described the proposal and that the purchase date was not required by law to be included in the ballot text. In regard to the text conflict between the title and the summary, state officials said that it was clear, according to the text, who can qualify for the tax break.[6]

The case was heard on July 22 by a Tallahassee judge.[7]

Removed from ballot

Less than a day following the July 22 court hearings, Circuit Judge John Cooper ruled that Amendment 3 should be removed from the ballot. According to reports, the ruling was expected to be appealed.[3]

Judge Cooper said, "Neither the title nor the summary provide notice that the additional exemption is only available for properties purchased on or after Jan.1, 2010. The failure of the title to give notice of this condition is materially misleading."[8][9]

Florida Supreme Court hearing

In early August, the Florida Supreme Court heard oral arguments on August 18.[10] On August 31 the state's high court upheld previous lower court decisions to throw out the proposed measure. Specifically, the high court ruled that the proposed Amendment 3 was misleading because the ballot language did not clarify to voters that the tax break applied only to property bought after January 1, 2010.[11][12]

Path to the ballot

See also: Florida law for legislatively-referred constitutional amendments

In order to qualify for the November 2010 ballot the proposed amendment was required to be approved by a minimum of 60% in the both the House and the Senate.

See also

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