FL Legislature offers tax breaks to hurricane-affected homeowners

Florida lawmakers on Wednesday approved a tax cut package to help people whose homes were destroyed or became uninhabitable after being hit by Hurricane Ian or Hurricane Nicole earlier this year.

Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel and Captiva islands, and St. Homeowners, including those in the coastal areas of Johns County, will soon be allowed to file for property tax refunds if their residence has been “made uninhabitable” for at least 30 days.

The tax refund would be calculated by comparing the value of the house with the uninhabitable portion of the year.

As part of the tax reduction package, property owners will be able to get back some of the property taxes they paid this year. If they haven’t paid their taxes yet, they’re eligible for a refund after paying their local county.

“Remember, they will still pay taxes. Just a fraction of the uninhabitable time they will pay,” said St. Senate Bill 4-A.

The initiative, which envisages spending $751 million in government money, comes after Hurricane Ian landed on Florida’s southwest coast in September and Hurricane Nicole on Florida’s northeast coast in November. The storms destroyed and damaged hundreds of homes as a result of deadly storm surge and beach erosion.

Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, is likely to enact the measure into law. Earlier this year, DeSantis issued an executive order halting property tax payments for the 26 counties affected by Ian until next June.

How does the application process work?

Landlords must contact their local property appraiser for a tax refund. The application must be sworn in and is subject to perjury.

County property appraisers will be tasked with reviewing applications and determining whether applicants are eligible for reimbursement. Real estate appraisers will need to notify applicants of the status of their application no later than 1 June 2023.

If a property appraiser determines that an applicant is ineligible, the landlord will be able to file a petition with their county’s Value Adjustment Board within 30 days.

The bill will apply to primary residences and secondary residences, including holiday homes.

“If you’re going to invest in the state of Florida, you should have a right to get something back if something happens to your investment,” Hutson said.

Property owners must apply by April 1, 2023 to claim a tax refund.

Local revenue losses

Florida lawmakers are expected to offset local revenue losses with state funds, but that will be resolved in the regular legislative session, which begins in March.

Meanwhile, local governments are expected to lose $18.3 million in property taxes with the measure, at least in the short term.

Local governments Small Township Coalition lobbyist Chris Doolin told the Senate Community Affairs Committee on Monday that some counties, such as Lee County, which was hit hardest by Hurricane Ian in September, could see $20 million. income losses.

Doolin said the measure could affect local budgets because revenue losses will come after spending already made during the fiscal year.

“I just wanted to bring the subject up as we go into regular session, not just today or in a special session,” he said.

Hutson said the state plans to give cash to local governments as part of the effort.

“We’re really just trying to get dollars from the government and give it to people so they can get back to their normal, everyday lives,” Hutson said.

Other parts of the package

The measure will also allocate $100 million for beach erosion projects without the need for local matching of governments in 16 counties. These include Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Collier, Duval, Flagler, Indian River, Lee, Manatee, Martin, Nassau, Palm Beach, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Sarasota, and Volusia counties.

Lawmakers also established a new state-run foundation within the Florida Department of Emergency Manager for disaster response, recovery, and relief work.

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