TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — It’s coming as a surprise to some, a big increase in their monthly expenses either directly, or indirectly due to higher property taxes.
It’s all happening even though there’s been no significant increase in the property tax rate. So why is this happening and what could fix it?
“We have veterans, people, like I said, that have been here forever, trying to live out the rest of their days,” said one renter at the Sunshine Mobile Home Park in St. Petersburg.
After a price hike, residents of SMH Park were panicked. By law, park owners can pass certain property taxes onto renters. Right now, across Florida, tax bills are increasing as property values soar and owners are passing charges down to you.
Mike Fasano is the Pasco County Tax Collector. He says its impacting all renters.
“It’s because these apartment complex, mobile home parks, commercial properties, they’re not homesteaded,” Fasano said.
Fasano is getting calls from two groups blindsided by tax hikes.
First, it’s the renters. They are indirectly impacted by rising taxes when owners pass-thru the charges.
Next, it’s the new homeowners.
“They’re asking why they’re seeing their taxes increase from one year to the next and 99% of the time it’s because they bought that home recently and they paid a higher price for that home, than the prior owner paid,” Fasano said.
If the prior owner was in the home for years, they likely paid way less for it than you. So your tax bill will be higher because the taxable value is based on the new sales price.
To get how this works you have to understand Florida’s homestead exemption. It’s a property tax break for your primary residence that does a few things.
First, it lowers the taxable value of your home by $50,000. More importantly, it limits how much your home can be valued for taxing purposes – capping the increase at 3% annually.
The question: Can anything be done to help Floridians struggling financially?
Fasano explains the exemption could be extended and enhanced.
“What you could do and it’s probably the most unpopular thing, for those who don’t get homestead, is to put a cap on that as well but you’d have to change the constitutional amendment to do that,” Fasano said. “You’re going to have pushback from taxing districts because that’s going to be less money that they’ll be receiving.”
“You know what the killer is? There’s no guarantee they’re going to pass that savings on to who? The little guy and gal. The renter.”
If you’re buying a new home, get an estimated tax on the county’s webpage.