It’s tax season again, and for many Ocala-Marion County property owners, that means filing for homestead exemption, a special tax exemption that could save them up to $50,000. In addition to remembering to file (which, if you own property that you have made your permanent residence, you should do by early March), those potentially affected by the exemption should also pay close attention to this year’s midterm elections ballot.

Last summer, Florida lawmakers voted to include a referendum regarding the homestead exemption to the general election ballot. If accepted by voters, it would expand the already-existing homestead exemption from $50,000 to $75,000 of the first $100,000 of a home’s taxable value, a measure that the referendum’s supporters say would make the dream of home ownership more attainable for Floridians. For example, $100,000 homes would be taxed as if they were worth $25,000, and a $250,000 home would be taxed as if it were worth $125,000.

However, some local governments are apprehensive about the full ramifications of the exemption. The state Revenue Estimating Conference has hypothesized that if the exemption goes into effect in the 2019-2020 fiscal year after being approved by voters in 2018, local governments statewide could expect non-school property tax revenue to decrease by as much as $752 million, collectively. The concern is that this decrease in revenue could lead to underfunding of municipal services, and lead to even more budget cuts. It is theorized that businesses and snowbirds could end up shouldering any local increases in taxes.

Both supporters and dissenters in the state legislature give equally compelling arguments regarding the exemption with supporters insisting that the referendum is intended to help more Floridians own their own homes and attain the American Dream, while those against voice worries that any ensuing revenue gap will put undue strain on local governments that are already largely underfunded. While the exemption was debated fiercely in the state legislature, it’s now up to Florida’s voters to decide whether it goes in to effect or not. Keep an eye out for the referendum on the ballot this November!

For more information on how to file for your homestead exemption, contact a Showcase agent. We’re always here to help protect the interests of Ocala-Marion county homeowners! You can also view the Florida Department of Revenue’s property tax exemption guide, where you can find forms and other resources to get you started.

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