This amendment was sponsored by the Florida Legislature.
|SUMMARY TEXT: Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to authorize the Legislature to provide by general law ad valorem homestead property tax relief to the surviving spouse of a military veteran who died from service- connected causes while on active duty or to the surviving spouse of a first responder who died in the line of duty. The amendment authorizes the Legislature to totally exempt or partially exempt such surviving spouse's homestead property from ad valorem taxation. The amendment defines a first responder as a law enforcement officer, a correctional officer, a firefighter, an emergency medical technician, or a paramedic. This amendment shall take effect January 1, 2013.|
The following property tax exemptions currently exist in Florida:
- Up to $50,000 exemption per year for a "homestead", the permanent residence of a homeowner, renter or dependent. The first $25,000 exemption applies to all property taxes, including school district taxes. The additional exemption of $25,000 applies only to non-school taxes and to the assessed value of the property between $50,000 and $75,000.
- $500 exemption for a widow or widower who is a Florida resident and who is currently unmarried.
- $500 exemption for a person who is legally blind.
- Total exemption for homesteads used by quadriplegics.
- Total exemption for homesteads used by paraplegics, hemiplegics, or other totally and permanently disabled people who must use a wheelchair for mobility or are legally blind if gross household income is below limits established by the Legislature (currently $26,350 for a homestead used by someone who is totally and permanently disabled to $33,541 for a couple in a non-profit home for the aged).
- Additional $50,000 exemption for persons 65 and older who comply with income limitations in some cities and counties where city or county governments have enacted a local ordinance allowing the added exemption.
The following additional exemptions currently exist for veterans:
- $5,000 exemption for ex-military service member who is at least 10% disabled in war or by service-connected events.
- Total exemption for honorably discharged veterans who are totally and permanently disabled or require a wheelchair for mobility resulting from military service.
- Varying exemptions for current or former members of any branch of the US military, the US Coast Guard or the Florida National Guard who were deployed within the last calendar year outside the US. The amounts of the exemptions depend on the percent of time the service member was deployed overseas.
- Varying discounts for disabled veterans who are 65 years of age or older and are Florida residents at the time they entered military service, based on percentage of disability that is a permanent service-connected disability, at least part of which is combat-related.
Arguments for Amendment 9:
Surviving spouses of veterans and first responders are often already financially strained and need the tax relief.
Veterans and first responders make great sacrifices for the well-being of all of us and deserve the state's support.
Arguments against Amendment 9:
"There are five amendments on the ballot that address reductions in local property taxes. If all five (2, 4, 9, 10, 11) were to pass, local governments would lose over $1 billion over the first three years of implementation. In addition to concerns that this lost revenue could result in cuts to essential services, such as education, transportation and public safety, the League's position has always been that no tax sources or revenues should be specified, limited, exempted or prohibited in the Constitution." -- League of Women Voters of Florida
There are already other programs to assist the survivors of veterans and first responders.
Additional exemptions would mean that all taxpayers would have to pay more.
It takes a bite out of the tax revenues schools and local governments need to provide services.
Editorial opinion from across the state
Amendment 9: This also involves property taxes, but allows the Legislature to "totally exempt or partially exempt" the surviving spouses of military veterans and first responders who died in the line of duty. Again, the issue is creating a new category of exemptions — in this case, possibly a full exemption from ad valorem homestead property taxes — that would reduce funds available to strapped local governments. The cumulative impact of these actions would impair local services. Vote No.
Paul Flemming, writing in the Tallahassee Democrat:
Homestead property tax exemption for surviving spouse of military veteran or first responder
Pro: We love veterans and the widows of veterans (and cops and firefighters, too)!
Con: We don't like puppies, manatees or those LOL cats, either.