Recently, Sixty Minutes broadcast a report about housing in Florida. The report centered on the increased cost of housing, from rental to actual home ownership. Many homes in Florida, the report said, were being purchased by corporate entities and wealthy individuals and groups which are creating a rental business and thus driving up the rental prices and putting houses in the hands of wealthy people, not the common folk who work for a living below the living wages required in our society today. What Sixty Minutes did NOT present was the impact on property tax bills for Floridians. Having been a one-time resident of Florida for nearly 40 years, I have some questions which were not addressed by Sixty Minutes.
Homestead Exemptions and Taxes
Unlike the STAR program here in New York, Florida has a homestead exemption for the primary residence of all people, not just for senior citizens. Who put this program in place? Many years ago, it was DEMOCRATS who put this in place, not Republicans. I think people need to know this. Certainly Fox News is not going to inform the nation about this. I am disappointed that CBS did not inform, either, with the report on Sixty Minutes. Homestead exemption gives the ability of homeowners in Florida to not pay taxes on x amount of value of the property. It is a standard amount and could have changed since I lived in Florida, so that is why I use “x” rather than an exact amount of exemption.
In Florida, I have had primary residences in Palm Beach County and St. Lucie County. In southwest Florida, I once owned property considered to be “secondary,” so was not exempt as primary. I paid a higher rate – the full tax bill – for the property in southwest Florida.
Due to Rick Scott nixing the idea voted in favor by the people of Florida for a fast-speed train from Orlando to Miami, my primary residence of property in St. Lucie County, along the path of where that train, voted in favor by a MAJORITY of Floridians and backed up by a BIPARTISAN support (the senator who represented my district in St. Lucie County, Republican majority leader in the Florida Senate supported the idea and fought with Rick Scott until term limits put Senator Alexander out of office; unlike the Republican majority leader from days gone by who hailed from an upstate NY area – he was my senator here in New York – who faced no term limits and could accomplish more for the people of New York when a Democratic Party governor here worked against the people). Between the burst of the real estate bubble and the lack of the voter-approved train, I lost money on the property in St. Lucie County, as I watched the developer of the real estate project fold. All due to a Republican named Rick Scott. The property went “under water,” which is an expression typically used for automobile loans and not for real estate because in those days real estate prices were a small but steady increase over a long period of time. Not any more. I was also told that, to rent the home, not only would I give up my homestead exemption, there were some taxes imposed by the state of Florida. I never looked into this later aspect, but just worked to sell the property and move back to Palm Beach County. I accomplished this goal and sold the Fort Pierce property, then purchased a villa in Palm Beach County.
In thinking over all of this and viewing the Sixty Minutes report, I have to wonder why CBS News did not present the facts regarding taxes. In saying that most people were unable to purchase homes there, due to the increased cost of housing from an influx of people with money from the west coast of the USA and what could be considered “slum lord” ownership comparable to the ghettos of Germany under Hitler, I have to ask: who pays the property taxes now in Florida? Those who are able to afford the expensive housing – the wealthy – can pay lowered property taxes due to homestead exemption. Those who are workers in Florida now pay huge amounts of taxes by way of huge increases in rent. Or am I wrong about this assessment?
If the ownership of rental properties are paying, in a corrupt manner, for housing which is “secondary,” not “primary,” taxes with homestead exemption, then the Republicans running Florida are doing “favors” for such slum lords. With such ownership, regardless of whether there is illegal homestead exemption or not, the renters are paying a large chunk of the taxes and are being denied the ability to purchase homes and pay the smaller amount of taxes available with homestead exemption. Is there a tax that these owners of secondary housing paying the state of Florida? That, I am not clear because I never pursued it with my property in Fort Pierce, but just sold the property.
In this age with lies about Democrats being “tax and spend” Democrats, words hurled by Trumpicans at Democrats, I repeat. It was Democrats in Florida who implemented the homestead exemption in Florida. Add to this the fact that the Democrat turned Republican and darling of Ronald Reagan reigned for one term over the implementation of a sales tax on services in Florida. He was a Republican when he did this, not a Democrat. And Ronald Reagan had embraced the man at the 1984 Republican National Convention. Nevertheless, I do believe it was the Democrats who helped repeal that tax on services. The news media in Florida can correct me if I am wrong and my memory is hazy on this issue. I am not a coward, as are tRUMP, Rick Scott, and Ron DeSantis, should I be in error. If I am in error about the later statement regarding the service tax, please… let me know. I am a man and willing to take it on the chin (figuratively speaking).
The Trumpicans can shut their mouths when falsely using the words, “united we stand, divided we fall.” With those folks, it is more like “united we Nazi fascists stand, divided we fall.” But by using the words in a more generic sense, they get people to follow them, like lemmings being led over a cliff to their death. Like cowards, the Trumpicans (like Palladino of New York) use the words which originated with unions and the civil rights movement, referencing ALL OF HUMANITY and particularly WE THE PEOPLE (first three words of the USA Constitution), not fascists.
Be Careful What you Wish for…
In the 1960s, my grandmother, God bless her, visited her sister in the state of Florida. She came back with the words, “it’s terrible down there with 90 degrees in the shade.” She did not add that with the heat was such a high humidity, compared to upstate New York when it gets hot, that there is steam coming off the roads after it rains in the summer. My grandmother said, “everyone is going there to seek a paradise and the fountain of youth. I never saw a paradise and the fountain of youth does not exist. I shall never return there.” My grandmother never DID return to Florida right up to her death in 1982.
I would classify living in Florida as negative because of “heat, humidity, hurricanes, and housing taxes [hidden in rental charges and extremely high HOA fees, far worse than village taxes in an upstate New York county – at least 10 times more in order to pay for sidewalks, streets, and social hall within a condo or single-family home development; privatization of services provided at a lower cost in many governmental jurisdictions]”.
To people in Tioga County and upstate New York who are pessimistic and think they have it so bad. When it comes to moving to Florida or elsewhere, be careful what you wish for…
Perhaps Trumpicans in Tioga County and elsewhere in this nation should wake up to what is happening today with regard to housing and taxes. What is happening today is due to firing up with false crap and stirring up the mud, by Fox News, Rupert Murdoch, and other 21st Century robber barons. These crappy fat pigs / robber barons have denied the workers of America decent living wages and wish to remove retirement and health security for we the people of America. At the same time, need to understand that the wages of CEOs with their bonuses have increased more than 1000% since the 1970s. This has been accomplished with the use of supply-side Reaganomics. deregulation, and the ultimate curse of monopoly. With considerations of housing and taxes, the media is not telling the truth, sad to say.