Home News Here’s why some Tampa Bay homeowners pay far more in taxes than their neighbors

Here’s why some Tampa Bay homeowners pay far more in taxes than their neighbors

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The two homes in Odessa’s Starkey Ranch development share many features.

It has the same square footage, the same masonry structure and the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms.

Their market value is also about the same, according to the Pasco Property Appraiser’s Office. What they don’t have is the same property tax bill.

Marc and Leslie Metrovic purchased their home in January 2021. Reset to reflect the amount they paid.new and higher rating It will appear on their tax forms for the first time this fall.

Their proposed property tax is $5,125, a third higher than their CallisiaDrive neighbors who have similar homes.

Our neighbors have lived there for over five years and enjoy generous tax breaks under Florida’s Save Our Homes Amendment. In addition to protecting a portion of the home’s value from taxation, it also limits how much the taxable value can rise each year.

Related: Are Your Property Taxes Higher Than Your Neighbors?

The program and its subsequent expansion, passed during an earlier home price spike, were intended to prevent long-time residents from having their homes discounted due to higher taxes. But new homeowners end up paying far more taxes than neighbors who bought years ago.

New residents pay more for public schools, police, fire protection, and other local government services based solely on the deadline date.

“I think it should be fair,” said Mark Metrovic. “Taxes should be calculated on the value,” he said, not when the property was purchased. “Could you let me know if there are any other items to calculate such taxes?”

The gap is widening this year Property value escalation across the region. For example, Pasco County reported that his valuation increased by 16.7% last year. The hardest hit will be first-time Florida buyers who do not have a homestead exemption to move to a new residence.

To tell the story, The Times reporter asked property appraisers in Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Pasco counties to help identify comparable properties facing very different taxes. did.

For example, in the Carolwood Country Way neighborhood, one homeowner receives a proposed tax bill of $1,337 and a nearby homebuyer receives an expected bill of $4,334. The market value of both homes is approximately $290,000.

difference? Amendments to Save Our Homes bring homeowners’ taxable income to nearly $170,000, lowering their bills.

“This is a very fundamental flaw,” said Dominic M. Calabro, president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch, a nonprofit research organization. “This is not a tax cap. It just puts an artificial constraint on one type of property at the expense of all other properties. Fundamentally, it’s un-American.”

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Voters approved the Save Our Homes constitutional amendment in 1992, and the primary beneficiaries are homestead owners. The government can increase the annual valuation by the consumer price index or 3%, whichever is lower.

In 2008, voters approved additional changes, extending the commercial property annual valuation cap to 10% and allowing homeowners to transfer some of their Save Our Homes protection. Transfers are allowed if the homeowner purchases and moves to a more expensive residence.

The 2008 change also doubled the homestead’s taxable value exemption to $50,000, excluding the value used to fund public education.

Ken Wilkinson, who retired in 2020 after 40 years as a Lee County real estate appraiser, is the architect of Save Our Homes. One of his motivations, he said, was that property values ​​in Lee County rose an average of 12% a year in his first 12 years in office.

That scenario, he said, mirrors the frenetic dynamics of Florida’s residential real estate market over the past two years. Northern transplanters moved into the state and “what they brought was the ability to pay the price in neighborhoods we’d never seen before.”

And before Save Our Homes, the Florida Constitution required an appraiser to revalue the property at 100% market value each year.

“It was creating a huge divide in terms of what people could afford,” Wilkinson said.

Not everyone is upset about tax increases.

Labor and employment attorney Philip Russell said when he bought his Dunedin home last year, he knew he would pay more property taxes than his neighbors.

“Everybody pays by the same formula,” he said. “So I think it’s fair. Get your house’s (tax) rate and value. The fact that my house is worth more than his 20 years ago isn’t the neighbor’s fault.”

Russell’s property tax bill this year will be about three times that of the one family across the street, but he realizes the longer he owns the place, the better the law will help him. I said yes.

Calabro derided the amendment in the 1990s as “Protect your beachfront home” and argued that the wealthiest homeowners would be the biggest beneficiaries. he hasn’t changed his opinion.

“It really, disproportionately helps the higher-value homes that are primary residences. Even the tiniest benefit, but not as much as the very wealthy,” he said.

Hillsborough Human Habitat builds low-income homes with the help of prospective owners’ sweat capital. The owner of a Habitat home located near Interstate 4 in the city of Ybor and completed in 2021 will have to pay $164,000 in property taxes on the home’s assessed market value. not.

In the Davis Islands, a home owner on Bosphorus Avenue is paying a bill based on a taxable value of less than $255,000, even though the market value is over $1.5 million. A Save Our Homes waiver removed her $1.2 million from her 2022 valuation.

“You need taxes to get services in your community. Okay,” said Tina Faucier, CEO of Habitat for Humanity in Hillsboro. “The price increase only made it very important.”

Times staff writers Charlie Frago and Colleen Wright contributed to this report.

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