March 12th, 2008 8:43 PM by Sherry Lee
Tax Reform is still underway, this time by the special Taxation and Budget Reform Commission (TBRC), who meet every 20 years to review Florida's tax structure. Their proposals are going to be more comprehensive and far reaching than any measures produced by our partisan state representatives. Amendment One, which Florida voters passed in our January 29 primary election, gave additional tax breaks to homesteaders and did nothing substantive for the severely over-taxed non-homesteaded property owners.
I believe this over-taxed group has been leading the market downward as they scramble to escape the high cost of property ownership. There simply is no justification for property taxes to double, triple or quadruple on existing properties just because their value has gone up - on paper. But this is exactly what has happened to millions of Florida property owners and their exodus is combining with the fall-off in new sales to create one of the worst housing markets since 1945. Yes, 1945.
The good news is, the TBRC is not made up entirely of partisan politicians who are pandering to lobbyists. Their proposals can be studied by visiting www.floridatbrc.org. They will be voting among themselves during the month of March on constitutional amendments that will go directly on the November 2008 ballot. So when we are voting for a new president in November, we will also have an opportunity (a once in 20 year opportunity!) to vote for additional tax reforms that should truly help get our markets back on stable ground.
Savvy buyers and sellers should not only encourage the TBRC by contacting them with your support, but also keep a close eye on the process and the market for signs of a bottom near the end of 2008 or beginning of 2009. The hope of electing a new president combined with the added tax reform measures that Floridian's should pass, have every possibility of helping our real estate market form a bottom. People thinking about buying or selling may want to keep these events in mind -