Florida Amendment 2, the Permanent Cap on Non-homestead Parcel Assessment Increases

Amendment 2 would make permanent the cap of 10% on annual non-homestead parcel assessment increases set to expire on January 1, 2019.  The cap does apply to school district taxes.

Background:

In 2008 voters overwhelmingly approved (64%) Amendment 1, which made into law various ad-valorem property tax exemptions and limitations on property tax assessments.  Included in Amendment 1 was a limitation of 10% on non-homestead parcel assessments.  Properties considered non-homestead parcels included non-homestead residential properties such as second homes and rental homes or apartments, and nonresidential property such as commercial property (retail businesses, restaurants, office buildings and apartment complexes) and industrial property (manufacturing buildings and warehouses) and vacant land.

Fueling the 2008 assessment limitation to become a Constitutional Amendment was the upward spiraling property value increases due to inflation and resulting assessment increases and ad-valorem property taxes that took place during the late 1990’s and 2000 years. The often dramatic tax increases made the ownership and management costs of property unstable and unpredictable from year to year. The amendment was for a ten- year period and is set to expire January1, 2019.  The assessment increase limitation is not applicable to new construction parcels or to parcels that have had physical improvements made to them. The “cap” is removed when a property changes ownership or use.

Approval of Amendment 2 would make permanent the 10% annual increase limitation.

Pros:

The most obvious benefit of making the limitation permanent is it would provide reasonable assurance to owners, purchasers, and property managers what potential increases in property taxes would be in the future. For many types of non-homestead property such as retail, office buildings and apartment complexes, property taxes are the single largest operating expense item. Knowledge of tax limitations is immensely important to income property owners and management companies when drafting leases that include tax pass-through’s and/or escalation clauses to the tenants.

Cons:

Opponents of the limitation on property assessment increases believe that the ”caps” create inequities in how properties are taxed.  The property tax is an ad-valorem tax.  Ad-valorem is a Latin word that means “according to the value of”.  Inherent in the ad-valorem concept is that a property that is twice as valuable as another will pay twice the property tax burden.  When a property tax system utilizes assessment exemptions and/or limitations, it is no longer an ad-valorem tax.

When taxing authorities have limitations to tax property at appropriate annual market value levels, they are unable to raise the tax revenue required to provide governmental services as the cost to provide them increases.

Additionally, when property tax systems employ tax exemptions and limitations, just as in cities that have rent control limitations in place, real estate markets cease to function in a normal unrestricted capacity.

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