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Court again upholds Fla. homeowner tax breaks

•  National News     updated  2009/11/18 10:00


A three-judge panel Tuesday rejected another challenge to state constitutional amendments that give property tax breaks to Florida's primary homeowners, but not to owners of second homes.

The panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal disagreed with arguments that the amendments violate U.S. constitutional rights of travel and interstate commerce by favoring longtime Florida homeowners over those who have recently moved to the state.

The judges cited a July decision that also upheld the Save Our Homes Amendment, which limits annual assessment increases to no more than 3 percent for homesteads, in a case filed by out-of-state residents who own second homes.

In the new case filed by recently arrived Florida residents, the judges also for the first time upheld a new state constitutional amendment passed last year that includes a "portability" provision. It lets homeowners take at least part of their Save Our Homes benefits with them when they move.

The panel, though, returned a third appeal attacking both tax breaks to a trial judge for reconsideration because he erroneously dismissed the case on grounds that he lacked jurisdiction. That case also was filed by out-of-state residents who own second homes in Florida.

The appellate court in July ruled the tax benefit is based on the way the property is used, not on the status of the owner as a resident or nonresident. That case, now on appeal to the Florida Supreme Court, did not include the portability provision.




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