Property Tax Committee Looks at Choices

TAMPA -

It's called the Florida Property Tax Reform Committee. Their mission is to give taxpayers some relief from skyrocketing property values that are then reflected in tax bills.

One idea floated today was to remove property taxes completely. But committee Chairman Don DeFosset of Tampa says those taxes - which are the biggest source of revenue in the state - would mean that the state sales tax would have to be raised from 6 percent to 13.5 percent.

DeFosset says 'portability' is another option. That would allow homeowners to carry their 3 percent cap when they buy another home.

DeFOSSET: We've had suggestions ranging from change our current assessments that are done on an annual basis to go to a rolling three- or four-year average, is one possible way, or potentially replacing property tax with another form of taxation.

Pinellas County Property Appraiser Jim Smith says if his county doubled the homestead exemption to $50,000, it would take $6 billion off the tax rolls. He says it would adversely affect the county school board and many smaller cities.

SMITH: The one tax people rely on more than anything else are are ad valorem... And they do that primarily because it's reliable. It's steady. Now, it is regressive, but so are sales taxes. The people on the low end by far pay a greater percentage of their income than do people who are on the high end of the economy.

The Florida Property Tax Reform Committee will give its interim report to Gov. Bush in mid-December.

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