The owners of certain homesteaded properties in Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton and most other Florida counties can go online to find out whether they would benefit from a possible third Florida homestead exemption.
In the Nov. 6 general election, voters statewide will be asked whether to approve a proposal that would amend Florida’s Constitution and provide for a third $25,000 exemption.
If the proposed Amendment 1 is approved by at least 60 percent of the voters, the new exemption would take effect Jan. 1, 2019. It would apply to homesteaded properties with an assessed value between $100,000 and $125,000.
That portion of a home’s value would be exempt from all property taxes other than public school taxes, and the current maximum exemption of $50,000 would be increased to $75,000.
In that scenario, the owner of a $125,000 home would only pay taxes on $50,000 of its valuation.
Okaloosa County Property Appraiser Mack Busbee recently had a “third homestead estimator” link added to the homepage of the county Property Appraiser’s website at okaloosapa.com. The estimator also is on the homepage of the Walton County Property Appraiser’s website at waltonpa.com.
The estimators on both of those sites include estimates for properties in most Florida counties, including Santa Rosa County.
With this online tool, property owners simply enter their address to see if they would benefit from the third possible exemption.
The estimator uses 2017 values and therefore provides only an estimate, according to Busbee.
Currently, the state Constitution provides for an exemption on the portion of home values between $1 and $25,000 and $50,000 and $75,000.
If Amendment 1 is approved, the average homeowner would receive an estimated $240 tax break, but municipal and county governments statewide would lose more than $730 million during the first year, according to the Florida Association of Counties.
Busbee gave a presentation on the third homestead estimator to the Okaloosa County Commission earlier this year. After the presentation, Commissioner Nathan Boyles said the county would take a “several million-dollar budget hit” if voters approve the third exemption.
“There will be no equivalent reduction in the services to be provided,” Boyles said. “We’ll still be looking at the equivalent costs (of services such as stormwater services and Sheriff’s Office protection). The result will be a transfer of that cost from the citizens who will receive a benefit from the homestead exemption to those who don’t.”
In response to a question from Commission Chairman Graham Fountain, Busbee said there are about 43,000 homesteaded parcels in Okaloosa County.
“About 30 percent (or about 13,000) of those will not see any effect from this (proposed third) homestead exemption, he said.