Homeowners: Taxes force residents to move

Article Courtesy of The Associated Press

Published  November 18, 2006


TAMPA -- High property taxes are forcing some residents to relocate to other states, homeowners told a governor-appointed committee reviewing the iniquities in the state's property tax laws on Friday.

The panel is intended to serve as a bridge between a Department of Revenue study of the same issues ordered by the Legislature and the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission that will meet for the first time in 2007 as required by the Florida Constitution.

During the meeting, Gerry Brissenden, president of the Canadian Snowbird Association, told the committee that seasonal residents may also seek refuge during winter elsewhere.

He represents more than 100,000 seasonal residents. He said part-time residents who use services only a portion of the year, pay a disproportionate amount of property taxes.

Thousands of snowbirds are already flocking to other states like Arizona, Texas and South Carolina where property taxes are much less, Brissenden said.

Other full-time Florida residents testified that they plan to move because of high property taxes.

Frank Millen said that when his taxes increased to $13,000 a year he knew it was time to move. By moving to Georgia, he will pay $10,000 less in taxes on a comparable house, he said.

"Something's got to be done in the state of Florida," Millen said.

Jim Smith, Pinellas County property appraiser, told the commission that a potential doubling of the homestead exemption will hurt residents more than help because the level of government services would be reduced.

"This is really a voluminous problem we have here in Florida and it's a problem nationally," Smith said.

The committee will have a preliminary report completed for a Dec. 15 meeting in Tallahassee.