Amendments require 60% to pass
PASSED
Y – 4,747,536 (61.68%)
N – 2,950,083 (38.35%)
If passed, Amendment 9 provides total or partial tax relief of homestead property to the surviving spouse of a military veteran or first responder who died while on active duty as a member of the United States Armed Forces or in the line of duty.

 


Summary

Amendment 9 authorizes the Legislature to provide by general law homestead property tax relief to the surviving spouse of a military veteran who died from service-connected causes while on active duty or to the surviving spouse of a first responder who died in the line of duty. The Amendment authorizes the Legislature to totally exempt or partially exempt such surviving spouse’s homestead property from ad valorem taxation. The Amendment defines a first responder as a law enforcement officer, a correctional officer, a firefighter, an emergency medical technician, or a paramedic. If passed, Amendment 9 shall take effect January 1, 2013.

Background


Local counties, school districts and other special districts (such as water management districts) are permitted under the Florida Constitution to levy taxes on property such as homes. The conditions and amounts of these local property taxes are governed by the
Florida Constitution
and by statutes enacted by the Legislature and signed by the
Governor
.

Each piece of property in Florida’s counties is appraised for “just” or “market” value each year by an elected local property tax appraiser. The local elected governing body, such as a county commission, then determines the “tax rate” (or “millage”) to be applied to the value of each piece of property, within strict upper limits specified by the Florida Constitution and the Legislature. After the tax has been determined, by multiplying the tax rate by the property’s assessed value, exemptions can be subtracted from the tax and discounts applied.

Although these taxes generally apply uniformly to every person and organization in the state, some exemptions exist:

  • Up to $50,000 exemption per year for a “homestead”, the permanent residence of a homeowner, renter or dependent. The first $25,000 exemption applies to all property taxes, including school district taxes. The additional exemption of $25,000 applies only to non-school taxes and to the assessed value of the property between $50,000 and $75,000.
  • $500 exemption for a widow or widower who is a Florida resident and who is currently unmarried.
  • $500 exemption for a person who is legally blind.
  • Total exemption for homesteads used by quadriplegics.
  • Total exemption for homesteads used by paraplegics, hemiplegics, or other totally and permanently disabled people who must use a wheelchair for mobility or are legally blind if gross household income is below limits established by the Legislature (currently $26,350 for a homestead used by someone who is totally and permanently disabled to $33,541 for a couple in a non-profit home for the aged).
  • Additional $50,000 exemption for persons 65 and older who comply with income limitations in some cities and counties where city or county governments have enacted a local ordinance allowing the added exemption.


Other exemptions and discounts exist for military veterans only, some for all veterans, some for elderly veterans and some for those who are disabled because of combat injuries:

  • $5,000 exemption for ex-military service member who is at least 10% disabled in war or by service-connected events.
  • Total exemption for honorably discharged veterans who are totally and permanently disabled or require a wheelchair for mobility resulting from military service.
  • Varying exemptions for current or former members of any branch of the US military, the US Coast Guard or the Florida National Guard who were deployed within the last calendar year outside the US. The amounts of the exemptions depend on the percent of time the service member was deployed overseas.
  • Varying discounts for disabled veterans who are 65 years of age or older and are Florida residents at the time they entered military service, based on percentage of disability that is a permanent service-connected disability, at least part of which is combat-related.


The surviving spouse of a deceased military veteran or first responder (who died in the line of duty) may not qualify for one or more of these exemptions. If not, he or she may have to pay full taxes on property formerly owned jointly with the deceased spouse. The Amendment proposes to authorize local governments to provide special property tax relief – using homestead exemptions – for such surviving spouses.

State government estimates that the total revenue impact would be about $0.6 million per year – $0.3 million in school taxes and $0.3 million in local government non-school taxes.

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Amendment Facts


Title: HOMESTEAD PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTION FOR SURVIVING SPOUSE OF MILITARY VETERAN OR FIRST RESPONDER
Type: Legislatively-referred constitutional amendment (passed unanimously)
Sponsors: State Representative Shawn Harrison and Senator Jim Norman.
Abstract: Provides additional property tax relief for spouses of veterans and first responders
Read the Amendment: Full Text
Those in support say: Surviving spouses of veterans and first responders often are poor and need tax relief. They deserve the state’s support. The measure was unanimously approved by both the Florida House an Senate
Those in opposition say: Other programs provide support for the survivors of veterans and first responders. Additional property tax exemptions mean that everyone else must pay more.
Requires: 60% voter approval for adoption.

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