Fla. House unveils property tax cut plan

House Republicans are proposing what they call the largest tax cut ever in Florida – a plan that drastically reduces property taxes for home and business owners alike. But, the proposal could also make Florida’s sales tax the highest in the nation.

House Speaker Marco Rubio says he’s all about saving you money this year. He’s pushing a plan to slash property taxes by nearly 20 percent. “This is the single largest tax cut in Florida history.”

The rollback to 2001 levels, adjusted for inflation and population growth, would cut property taxes for both home and business owners so renters could benefit too, if landlords pass on the savings.

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Rebecca Sosa says many Floridians are being priced out of their homes, and lawmakers should take action. “This is what we need to do. This is what the community is asking for. This is what people are begging for.”

The House Republican plan also includes a special election this fall to consider a constitutional amendment to abolish property taxes for primary residences altogether. Total tax savings – about 6 billion bucks. But the tradeoff is voters would also have to say yes to a 2 ½ cent sales tax hike.

Right now there is no requirement that investment property owners pass on their tax savings to renters. Those renters would have to pay the higher sales taxes though, of about 10 percent in some counties.

Representative Joyce Cusack is concerned working-class Floridians who don’t own homes might not make out as well under the bill. “I don’t want us to shift the burden from one group to another group.”

And higher sales taxes could be a tough sell politically, no matter how much property taxes come down.

Governor Charlie Crist is not saying much about the property tax relief proposals, only that he wants property taxes to come down. He says he hasn’t decided yet whether he’ll support the proposed sales tax increase.

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