Yes to FL's benevolent amendment proposals and small business tax relief

September 28, 2012 

Part three of four editorials on state constitutional amendments on the November ballot.

Out of the many tax measures awaiting voters, several extend property tax breaks that would not cripple local governments and school districts with large revenue losses. The appeal of three amendments centers around the compassionate nature of extending relief to specific segments of the population that are most deserving. The fourth hands small businesses a break that raises expectations of job growth.

Amendment 2

Florida already extends a homestead exemption to disabled combat veterans who were Florida residents upon entering the military. Amendment 2 would expand that eligibility for the property tax discount to all disabled combat veterans.

The state's Department of Veterans' Affairs estimates that an additional 74,000 veterans might qualify, and the Revenue Estimating Conference forecasts a statewide revenue reduction of about $15 million from 2013-2016, though the figure would grow to $7.6 million annually afterward.

Still, this is such a small price to pay to reward those who served our country and suffered personally as a result. Nothing can repay such sacrifice. This should pass.

Amendment 9

This measure exempts the surviving spouses of military personnel and first responders killed in the line of duty from paying property taxes on their homes. Like Amendment 2, this should be seen as a tribute to the families of the men and women who serve to protect us only to suffer the ultimate loss.

With a minimal decline in tax revenue, this, too, should pass.

Amendment 11

This proposal passed both the House and Senate on unanimous votes -- for good reason. The amendment authorizes cities and counties to grant low-income seniors total homestead property tax relief. Homeowners 65 and older who have maintained residency in that home for at least 25 years and who have a household income below $27,030 would be eligible. The home cannot have a just market value exceeding $250,000.

With the cost of living ever rising and many senior incomes failing to keep pace, this humane measure could be a life preserver to many. We recommend a yes vote.

Amendment 10

As we opined at length in July, this measure holds the potential to stimulate job growth by reducing the tax burden on small businesses. The amendment doubles the current $25,000 exemption on the tangible personal property tax, which covers machinery, computers and other equipment but only for companies with less than $50,000 in taxable property.

Significantly, the proposal also allows counties and municipalities the flexibility to grant additional tax relief in order to attract business investment.

While this would reduce government revenues, the Florida Association of Counties endorses passage. The amendment's economic benefits could result in job growth and new businesses, which would offset government revenue loss with new tax sources.

We support this amendment.

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