Breaking Down Amendment 4

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Amendment four includes several measure that would benefit home buyers.
It would give first-time home-buyers a 50% tax break on property taxes for the first 5-years of ownership.
So, if the house is valued at 150-thousand dollars, the buyer would pay taxes on 75-thousand dollars of the home's value.
But, it would also limit property taxes increase for business to ten percent a year.
It reduces the maximum amount of property tax increases from 10%-to-5%, on non-homesteaded houses.
It would also keep tax on those properties from going-up if the property value actually decreases.
"It's believed to be a fair tax move because our economy is based on a lot of people who are absentee owners, here especially on the beach," said local realtor Jim Free.
Realtors, like Free, believe out-of-state owners already bare too much of the local tax burden.
But city officials believe these proposed tax breaks would be devastating for local governments.
"If you're going to give take breaks to snowbirds who live somewhere else full time, then who's going pick up the tab-another way to look at it is-it's going to be the people who are here full time," said County Manager Ed Smith.
Smith admitted the amendment has some good points, but said those points are not enough to make the entire proposal worthwhile.
"Overall for Bay County local government purposes it could be fundamentally bad in the long run," he said.
Amendment four does not deal with homestead exemption properties.
Under Florida law, they already have a 3% cap on property tax increases.

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