Florida wants to become the most veteran-friendly state in America.
The revisal of the Second Amendment to the Florida constitution and a passing vote Nov. 6 would grant that wish.
The proposal would give disabled veterans who were not Florida residents at the time of active duty a homestead property tax discount. Veterans must be 65 years or older and have a combat-related disability to be considered.
Florida Senator Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, created the bill. His main goal is to “provide relief to our state’s aging combat-injured veterans.”
Bennett, also a veteran himself, served four tours in the Vietnam War.
He emphasized that passing this bill is “another way to show gratitude to people who served to protect the freedoms that we enjoy.”
Veterans who suffered a combat-related injury will receive a discount equal to the percentage of their disability. This method is also known as the ad valorem tax discount.
For example, if a veteran is 50 percent disabled then the veteran will receive a 50 percent discount on their property taxes. The minimum requirement for this benefit is a 10 percent disability. It maxes out at a 100 percent.
Under the current amendment, a veteran must be a Florida citizen at time of active-military duty.
Florida Realtor Trey Price, a public policy representative, with the Florida Association of Realtors backs the bill.
He said that, “We [Florida Association of Realtors] think it will encourage retirees to look at Florida and be more willing to buy.”
He said the impact on Florida’s housing market would not be substantial.
“Not a huge effect honestly. There are not that many disabled veterans,” Price said.” It’s not going to turn it [Florida’s housing market] around by any means.”
Director of Veteran Affairs Sean Noles said, “He didn’t know whether it’s hurtful or beneficial for the housing market.”
“Only time will tell,” Noles said in an email response.
Bennett said there is a mounting spending problem and Florida officials are not allocating money to the right places.
The Revenue Estimating Conference in March 2011 estimated that if approved by voters, the statewide impact of the revisions would reduce school tax revenues by $1.1 million in fiscal year 2013-2014.
The House expects a $2.3 million reduction in fiscal year 2014-2015 and a $3.6 million in fiscal year 2015-2016. If current millage rates stall, then non-school tax revenues for local government would cutback by $11.7 million over the next four years.
To ease the burden, Price said that every city collectively has potential to lose money.
Currently, there are about 250,000 disabled veterans receiving benefits under the amendment.
In order to qualify under the current measure, the veteran must submit proof of the disability to the county property appraiser.
In 2010, only 1,206 veterans received the Disabled Veteran’s Homestead Discount totaling $28,749,630.The average discount paid was $23,839 among 77,535 veterans age 65 years or older.
The Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs estimates the maximum number of potential veterans at 75,000.
Commander Mark Alvarec of Veterans of Foreign Wars post 3308 of Tallahassee said overall the bill will enhance some of the benefits veterans have but mainly “help veterans to move to Florida and see that Florida offers great incentives.”
For more information:
Visit the www.flsenate.gov and search for bill 439.
Florida Association of Realtors at http://www.floridarealtors.org/
Leon County appraiser at http://www.leonpa.org/