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Date of Issue: November 15, 2007

CART says legislation not enough for biz taxpayers

The Coalition Against Rising Taxation grassroots organization has given a “temporary” thumbs down to the Florida Legislature’s recently passed tax bill designed to ease the tax burden of Florida homeowners.

CART executive director Don Schroder said that while the group’s executive committee still needs to meet and finalize an official opinion, the legislation “really does nothing for businesses.”

The 10 percent cap on taxes in the bill isn’t going to be effective because CART doesn’t see property values increasing by 10 percent in the near future, he said. “It’s a false cap.”

Schroder also noted that the bill did not address tax issues for working waterfront communities or first-time homebuyers, problems that CART believes still need to be discussed and solved.

The law increases the homestead exemption from $25,000 to $50,000 and that might ease the tax bill of a current homeowner, but it doesn’t apply to the “mom-and-pop” motel owner stuck with ever-increasing tax bills.

The legislature also did not address the methods used by property appraisers throughout Florida to set property values. CART has maintained that the “highest-and-best-use” method employed is unfair to the small motel owner because it allows property appraisers to compare the motel to a condominium for property values, and the condominium is always appraised at a higher value.

But Schroder does see some possibility for tax relief in a proposal by former state Sen. John McKay of Manatee County. Under McKay’s plan, 40 percent of all property taxes would be eliminated and it would not increase the sales tax burden on individual taxpayers, said Schroder.