The partisanship guiding certain left leaning organizations in this election is simply mind boggling.
Some of this becomes painfully apparent when reviewing the nationwide measures in the November ballot (see our Voting Guide). In Florida, and elsewhere, low-income senior citizens are sometimes taxed out of their homes by local property taxes. Being retired, on fixed incomes and not always in the best of health, these seniors are able to make ends meet by using small earnings from their life savings, annuities, or social security payments. Having no rent or mortgage, the money is sufficient for food, health care and basic expenses. Maybe they have some left over for occasional presents to grandchildren or the infrequent small vacation.
In general, they are able to sustain dignified and self supported lives because they own (and have no doubt earned!) their homes. They worked their entire lives, paid their taxes, paid off mortgages, perhaps served in the military, raised their children, helped build America, and now at least are free-and-clear owners of their homesteads. When high property taxes are added to the mix, especially as property values have risen greatly in the past decades, the homes many times become unaffordable and senior citizens end up losing the homes they worked for and lived in for much of their lives.
Since property values and rents have gone up across the board, they gain little by selling their home and trying to buy a different one which will often cost the same or more. Even if they purchase a less expensive home, their income is still insufficient to pay the new property taxes. When they are forced to sell, large part of the equity is seized by the government to pay for the owed property taxes, interest and fines that forced the sale to begin with. In essence, the “nest egg” the seniors believed their home to be their entire lives, what should be a source of security and stability, becomes a magnet for taxation and debt which they can not afford.
The local governments issuing these property taxes and throwing these low-income seniors out into the street often do not wish to do so but have no choice. Some, with high numbers of low income retirees see the destruction the property taxes are causing on their communities and would like to provide relief and exemptions. The Florida constitution however, according to the same far-left Florida Supreme Court that attempted to appoint Al Gore into office and declared school voucher programs unconstitutional, forbids this practice since the property taxes must be applied at a uniform rate, regardless of age, race, creed etc. Counties, municipalities school districts and the like, are forced to continue to seize their homes for overdue property taxes.
The Florida GOP introduced a Constitutional Amendment that will appear on this year’s (2012) November ballot. Amendment 11 (reported on here in our Nationwide Voter Guide) simply ALLOWS local governments to give property tax relief to senior citizens, if they elect to do so by their own democratic processes. In order to qualify for these exemptions, seniors must have a low income, own a a reasonably inexpensive home ($250,000 or less), and have lived in the same home for AT LEAST 25 years.
The qualification standards if anything, are quite high. Seniors, regardless of their income may not qualify if their home is an above average market-price homestead. The reasoning there being that the government should not be deprived of revenues for example on a $2 million home simply because a retired senior citizen lives there. Regardless of how small (or non existent) the household’s income may be, there is obvious recourse if it cannot afford the property’s taxes; the expensive property can be sold, a more modest homestead can be purchased or rented, and a relatively large amount of cash can be put away for the future. Under this amendment, seniors have the right to not be thrown out of their average or modest homes and into the street due to property taxes, but not the right to continue to own expensive estates property-tax free.
In addition, the 25 year residency requirement is quite high. It means that low income seniors, regardless of their age, health and poverty level, can and will lose their homes if they cannot afford their home’s property taxes and have not lived in them for at least a quarter century. Some may have moved recently exactly because their previous homes had unaffordable property taxes! One decade, and even two decades will not suffice. So though a good argument can be made that the bill’s standard is too high, for low income seniors who have lived in their modest homes for 25 years or more, this bill will at least allow the POSSIBILITY of getting tax relief. The local jurisdictions still have to decide to extend this relief, but it will at least now be legal to do so. For many, it will mean the ability to keep their own hard-earned property and continuing to live a dignified and self-sustaining life as they have done throughout their lifetime.
It is a shocking surprise to find the Amendment facing extremely strong opposition from the Democratic party base and the left-wing in general, despite the fact that the Florida legislature passed the bill unanimously. From the Florida League of Women Voters to state worker unions, the word is “NO on 11” (and “NO” on every other Amendment on the ballot it should be noted).
The LWV strongly opposes Amendment 11 and warns that:
THE LEAGUE OPPOSES THIS AMENDMENT… Amendment 11, if passed and enacted universally throughout the state, would cost local governments $27.8 million over the first three years of implementation.
The tricky part of their wording is of course “if passed and enacted universally throughout the state”. Since the Amendment only makes it legal for local jurisdictions to enact this tax relief, in order to come up with their $27.8 million figure, they deceivingly assume every town, city, school district, special district and county in the state enacts a total tax exemption for the qualified seniors.
Secondly, the amendment would “cost local governments” nothing, but would only allow them to enact this “cost” if they so choose to. It is also a funny way to describe a tax relief; it costs nothing, but saves the taxpayer something. The left does not think of government spending as a “cost” but apparently only electing to NOT take someone’s money as a “cost”.
So in essence, opposing this amendment amounts to opposing the right for a local government who:
- Believes it can afford it.
- Does not wish to throw low income senior citizens out of their long-term homes due to unaffordable property taxes into the streets.
to extend tax relief to these low income senior citizens. Why? Simple enough. A responsible and correct local government who wishes to deprive itself of this revenue (however small), might also decrease its spending accordingly by an equal amount. This is an unacceptable condition for the Democrats, unions, and the LWV, government spending should steamroll ahead and must never accept any cutbacks, regardless of their merit (unless it is military spending of course).
Ironically, the figure actually points to how incredibly inexpensive it would be for the ENTIRE state of Florida to extend this full relief for a full THREE years. The cost of not repossessing low income seniors’ homes and forcing them into destitution is a mere $27.8 million for three years!
To put this in perspective, that equals roughly $9.3 million a year. Back in 2007, the total local government (and not state) revenue derived from property taxes was $34.2 BILLION. The percent that thus came from qualified low income seniors if we take the LWV figure for granted is less than .028% of the total. As far as total spending is concerned, the figure is of course even less significant. Local governments in Florida spent a total of $96.6 billion in 20007. The $9.3 million saved by low income seniors amounts to an insignificant less than .0097% of the total local government expenditure in Florida. The property tax relief for these seniors however, would be VERY significant to them.. Seems like a small gesture a society can do to appreciate those who carried the burden of a nation for a lifetime.
One may think that the liberals, so compassionate for the poor and downtrodden as they like to remind, would be extremely supportive of this exemption for senior citizens. But that would be to misjudge the left and their values. Of course, they would love to give money to that same senior citizen once he has lost his home and is on the streets. Democrats love to give other people’s money to someone else. That is their core economic principle. However, they are never fans of helping someone by simply NOT stealing his money to begin with.
The left’s “humanity” extends as far as they can seize wealth from those who have earned it, and give it to those who have not. They see no merit in the dignity of allowing man to exist outside of charity, by the fruits of his own labor, and by the justice of not stealing it away from him. It is important to note this and understand the hollow lie that is the left’s “caring” for the downtrodden. It is power they seek, in the arrogance of believing that they know how best to regular society, and their yearning for appreciation of their magnanimity in giving away someone else’s wealth to those in need.
Once the elderly have been driven from their rightful homes by tax burdens, and join the ranks of the destitute, no longer being able to afford food, shelter nor health care, the same left-wing will swoop down in glorious generosity with hand outs, paid for by those who are still standing on their own two feet.
Supreme Court Justice Retention
This November 2012 ballot offers Floridians the chance to get rid of three activist Supreme Court Justices that have overstepped their bounds and abused the power of the court to enact their leftist political agenda. In 2006, they ruled school vouchers unconstitutional, and blocked a popular statewide law passed by the legislature to give parents choice in where they send their children to school. The court sentenced Teri Schiavo to a slow painful death from thirst despite the wish of her parents and millions of people across the nation to hydrate and feed her. They attempted to appoint Al Gore as President of the USA from the bench in defiance to the state’s popular vote and the nation’s electoral college in the 2000 presidential election. The US Supreme Court was forced to overrule them and stop their conspiracy.
Floridians have elected a Republican governor and a Republican legislature They now have a balanced budget and have made great steps in rebuilding their state, even in the midst of an Obama-led national economic disaster. But as long as these three radical leftist oligarchs remain omnipotent in the Supreme Court, the government and the people’s will are left hostage. In November 2012, Floridians can send these three un-American, elitist and arrogant abusers of power back to their homes. Perhaps they will be able to benefit in their retirement from the lower property tax rates.
Taxed out of their homes? They should be grateful they own their homes, because owning your home often affords homeowners preferential property tax rates.
Try renting your home and see how much faster and easier it is to be taxed out of it. Michigan Republicans created a “nonhomestead tax” on rental property, which makes the school property tax rate on rental property four times the rate on owner-occupied homes. That works out to an average $1,500 annual property tax subsidy for homeowners, paid for by landlords and their tenants.
Terry, thanks for the comment, though not sure I follow.
The Homestead Property Tax Credit up to $1,200 is for both renters and homeowners. However, you are right that as far as I understand, the Primary Residence Exemption is only for homeowners. But I am not sure why you blame that on Republicans. The act is from the late 1800’s and Republicans have only tried to expand it. For example, in 2008, they allowed for two homesteads to be exempted for a period of time under certain conditions.
Which “non homestead tax” did Republicans create?
In principal, your point is well taken and I agree with it, homestead exemptions and credits should be granted to both renters and homeowners equally as far as property taxes go. The issue is that granting them equally across the board is virtually the same as simply cancelling property taxes (or reducing by that exemption amount) across the board. Those homes that property owners own but do not live in (“non homestead”) are most usually rented to other people and thus their respective “homestead”s. So basically every property except those mostly empty (perhaps like vacation homes) would get the exemption.
I advocate that all taxes should be as small as possible to begin with, if exist at all. But given a property tax, I agree with you that it makes little sense to grant homestead owners preference since all (or almost all) homes are someone’s homestead. This in effect punishes renters, and is just one of the many government policies that pushed for overly zealous home-ownership across america and the real estate bubble and subsequent financial crisis. What would be better targeted, is a homestead exemption for certain people, regardless of whether they rent or own. In cases where they rent, the property tax credit can either be directly refunded to the tenant or be credited to the landlord who in turn can lower his rent for those tenants.
The people that may be targeted for such exemptions can include typically senior citizen, long time residents of the homestead, and low income households. Should not matter if they rent or own. Agree with you, just don’t see how the GOP is to blame for that?
In Israel for example, since many types of citizens are afforded different discount rates on property taxes (conscript soldiers, new immigrants, students, minorities, low income families, seniors etc), property taxes are paid directly by those who live in a residence and not by landlords or property owners. If the home is occupied by the owner or vacant, the owner is responsible for property taxes based on his effective rate, but once rented, the new tenants can apply for a discount based on their respective rate (or total exemption in some cases).
Certainly neither owners of non-homestead properties nor renters should be penalized for not living in a home that they own. Thanks for pointing that out.