Amendment 3 Will the Wording Kill the Deal?

By September 1, 2010Traditions Property Blog

Created by the Florida Legislature in 2009, Amendment 3, provides a tax break for homebuyers that have not owned a primary residence within the last 8 years and lower the yearly tax appraisal cap from 10 percent to 5 percent for rental and commercial property. The issue of wording for the ballot box exceeds the concern over the effects. Read more here:
Fla. Supreme Court considers Amendment 3
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Aug. 19, 2010 – The Florida Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday supporting, and also opposing, the ballot wording of a proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution, Amendment 3. Created by the Florida Legislature in 2009 to boost home sales, Amendment 3, if added to the constitution, would give homebuyers who have not owned a primary residency in the previous eight years an additional property tax break; it would also lower the yearly tax appraisal cap for rental property and commercial real estate from 10 percent to 5 percent.

The point of dispute, however, is not over what the amendment would do; rather, it’s about the wording voters would read in the ballot box and whether it adequately explains what would happen should it become effective.

A lower court judge earlier removed Amendment 3 from the ballot, saying the wording misled voters. The key point of contention focused on the effective date of the property tax break – Jan. 1, 2010 – which is not mentioned in the amendment. The judge feared some voters would opt to approve it thinking, incorrectly, that they would get the tax break if it passed.

Florida Realtors earlier filed an amicus brief supporting the amendment, prepared by attorneys Vicki Weber and David Powell of Hopping, Green, and Sams.

While the Supreme Court justices did not issue a decision yesterday, few of the six justices present for oral arguments seemed inclined to place the amendment back onto the ballot. Trey Price, a Florida Realtors public policy representative, said lawyers advocating removal of Amendment 3 presented a strong case before the Supreme Court due to the omission of the effective date. A decision is expected by early September before the state prints absentee ballots.

“If Amendment 3 does, in fact, not appear on the November ballot, Florida Realtors’ State and Local Taxation Subcommittee is ready to discuss the next steps and plan for a better amendment for 2012,” Price says. “Economists are telling us that commercial property assessments are unlikely to exceed 5 percent in the coming two years, so that is somewhat good news.”

© 2010 Florida Realtors®