Pros, cons on Florida Amendment 4

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Amendment 4 on this November's ballot will either be a savior for the economy or cost you more, depending on who is doing the talking.

The property taxes on businesses and other non-homestead property in Florida are currently limited to no more than a 10 percent increase in value each year. Amendment 4 would cut that in half -- to 5 percent a year.

Businesses, including the Florida Chamber of Commerce, are urging a yes vote.

"We support Amendment 4 because it is a tax break for not only tax payers, but for small business," said Laticia Adams, of the Florida Chamber.

First-time home buyers will also get a break if Amendment 4 passes. A $200,000 house would be taxed at just $100,000 the first year, gradually increasing to $150,000 in taxable value over five years. The calculation doesn't include any change in the home's value.

The third leg of Amendment 4 changes the "recapture rule" on the Save Our Homes exemption that allows taxes to go up on property even when its value goes down.

Last year, the market value of the house pictured right was $248,000. This year it's $237,000 -- a drop of $10,931. But because the taxes are limited by Save Our Homes, last year it was only taxed at $170,000. This year the taxable value is up to $175,000.

Florida's cities and counties are opposed to Amendment 4. They say it will be a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

"The cities and counties are going to have three choices. They can raise taxes, raise fees, or cut services. Any of those three choices means that our homeowners pay the price," said Cragin Mosteller, of the Florida Association of Counties.

According to statistics provided by that organization, tax revenue for Duval County would drop $13.9 million in 2014 if this amendment passes, growing to a $$23.3 million loss in 2016.

DOCUMENT:  County-by-county impact of Amendment 4

Florida TaxWatch isn't taking a position on Amendment 4, but two years ago the watchdog said the tax caps could hurt bond rating and stifle growth.

The independent Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says Amendment 4 could cost jobs, raise taxes and for cuts in services.

The League of Women Voters is recommending a no vote on this and every other constitutional amendment on the ballot.

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