Thursday, March 03, 2005

Real Estate Taxes

Ok, since I brought it up earlier I want to also make you aware of the Homestead Exemption/Tax Cap. Here are bits and pieces of an article posted in the Tampa Tribune on March 1st.

When Patsy Bourassa's father passed away 11 years ago, she vowed to help her then-64-year-old mother repair her deteriorated home.

Bourassa moved back to the Palma Ceia house her parents had owned for 40 years and surveyed the damage: a rotting roof and front porch, termite damage and no central heat or air.

They made small fixes to the 1925 bungalow, and Bourassa later decided to borrow money to do the rest. She got estimates, and a bank agreed to loan her $75,000. But first, the bank said, Bourassa needed to put the south Tampa home in her name. Her ailing mother, Violet Hamilton, signed over the home to her without a second thought.

It was that decision in 2000 that eventually cost them the house.

"It tears at my heart every day that I did that to my mother," Bourassa now says. "I was just trying to make her house a decent place to live in."

The problem arose because Hamilton had homestead exemption, which had kept her property taxes from increasing more than 3 percent each year. The three-bedroom, 1,618- square-foot home that had cost $8,000 in 1964 was paid for. Hamilton paid about $1,400 a year in property taxes, even as properties in the prestigious Palma Ceia neighborhood appreciated.

However, when the deed was transferred into Bourassa's name, the homestead and tax cap were removed. The county reappraised the home and adjusted the property taxes to reflect the new value of more than $200,000.

Over the next two years, the taxes almost tripled to nearly $4,000 a year. That caused Bourassa's monthly payment on the home equity loan to rise from about $450 to $1,216. Bourassa, now 46 and a financial specialist for the University of South Florida, couldn't afford that kind of increase and was forced to sell the house in 2004....

...Florida homeowners have enjoyed protection from rising property taxes since the Save Our Homes amendment to the Florida Constitution passed in 1993. Those with homestead exemption get $25,000 off of the taxable value of their primary residence. This saves the typical homeowner an average of about $600 a year, Shepherd said. Plus, the taxable value won't grow more than 3 percent a year for as long the owner lives in the home...

...The sticker shock isn't limited to situations such as Bourassa's. New homeowners inherit the previous owner's taxes for the remainder of that year, but when the county appraises the value the next November, the taxes are adjusted.
Issue: Property tax disclosure with fines of $500/$1,000 per time and suit for damages up to 5 times tax difference

RAMB launched an all out push to get every Commissioner contacted to address our concerns and request support for deferral instead of final approval on Tuesday.


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