Sarasota Review

Sarasota Review

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Buchanan and Gruters seek to fix homestead exemption problem for all Floridians

Local Government

By Tom Lawrence | Jan 31, 2020

State Sen. Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota) | Facebook

It’s said death and taxes are the only certainties in this world. But for some Sarasota County residents, uncertainty about their tax bill has them deadly serious about the need for change. 

State Rep. James Buchanan (R-Osprey) and state Sen. Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota) are trying a different tact — they are writing a bill that would clear up some confusion.

The problem is homestead tax exemptions granted to Sarasota County residents who also own property in other states. If they are getting that tax break there, they aren’t eligible for one in Florida.

The Sunshine State offers several tax breaks, with no taxes on the initial $25,000 and only assessing school taxes on property valued between $50,000 and $75,000.

In some cases, Florida property owners with homes in other states received tax breaks there without their knowledge. Even if the tax reduction was minor, it was considered a violation and the money that was exempted from their Florida tax bill has to be paid back, with interest and penalties.

That can leave homeowners with a bill in the tens of thousands and, in one case, $800,000.

Buchanan and Gruters have introduced bills in their chambers to absolve Florida residents who inadvertently violated the tax code.

The bills are being backed by Sarasota County Property Appraiser Bill Furst as well as the Florida Property Appraisers Association.

To read SB213, Gruters’ bill, go here.

To read Buchanan’s bill, HB223, go here. 

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