4 Reasons You Should Vote Yes On Amendment 4

October 8, 2012

Published October 1, 2012 | By dflynn

#1 – It protects YOU from rising property taxes

Did you know that under Florida property tax law, your property tax bill can go up, even if the value of your home goes down? It’s true. Every year your home’s taxable value is re-assessed. That value can increase by as much as 3% every year, and that affects how much you pay in property taxes, even if your millage rate doesn’t change.

But what if the real value of your home stays the same, or even goes down? Shouldn’t your assessed value go in the same direction? Not as the law is written. Even if your home’s value goes down, your assessed value can still increase by up to three percent. That’s right – your millage rate can stay the same or even go down – and your property tax bill will still go up.

It’s called recapture, and it’s an unfair tax trap that Amendment 4 will allow the legislature to do away with if supported by the people of Florida. It’s just the right thing to do, and it’s one way we can help many Floridians keep more of their precious assets.

#2 – It helps small businesses and renters

Do you own a small business? Do you have a second property that you rent out to a family or local business? Are you a renter? Then you know all about the taxes you pay without a homestead exemption. (Yes renters, you pay it too – your landlords pass it on in your rent.) Under current laws, your assessed property value can go up by as much as 10% each year!

Amendment 4 helps non-homestead property owners by lowering that cap to 5% rather than 10%. The result will be lower property taxes over time, and a more predictable property tax environment for businesses.

That’s great for Floridians who are already getting their assets taxed off, and it can help attract more investment in vacant properties that were sold off during the recession. That will help boost property values and attract more jobs and prosperity to our state at a time when we need more of both.

#3 – It will encourage first-time home-buyers

Maybe you’re looking to buy your first home on your own or with your spouse. Or maybe you and your family had to sell your old home and rent for a while because your mortgage and property taxes got too costly in the recession. Or maybe you lost your job and needed to downsize.

After a few very tough years here, Florida’s housing market is a much friendlier place for first-time home-buyers. But SPRS is the threatening condition that could keep all of that from happening. After all, nobody who has dealt with a recession like the one Florida has faced would want to buy a new home, only to get their assets taxed off – again.

So Amendment 4 takes a key step to address SPRS here as well. Under Amendment 4, any Floridian who has never had a homestead exemption, or who has not claimed an exemption in the last three years can receive an additional homestead exemption of half your home’s value up to $150,000 or half the median home price in the county you live. And that property tax exemption can stay in place for up to five years. This will mean serious tax relief for any Floridians looking to get on their without having to worry about getting their assets taxed off.

#4 – It will create jobs and stimulate the economy

According to a Taxwatch study, Amendment 4 will create nearly 20,000 new jobs, over 315,000 home sales more than would have otherwise occurred AND add nearly $5.3 billion dollars to the personal income of Florida residents. What more do you need to know?

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Will the $8,000 tax credit be extended?

April 9, 2010

According to my sources the $8,000 tax credit will NOT be extended. There simply is not enough money available to extend this first-time home buyer tax credit. So it is now or never folks. If you’d like to benefit from this tax credit you need to be under contract in the next few weeks and closed by June 30, 2010. This means short sales aren’t going to work. Concentrate on traditional sales and bank-owned or you will miss the tax credit. Anyone that tells you that you can go under contract and close on a short sale by June 30, 2010 is either under the influence of something exotic or completely inexperienced with short sales.

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Can I still get the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit?

March 24, 2010

This is a question I’m being asked regularly these days both through email and in person. The answer is that there is still time to cash in on this tax credit, but your window of opportunity is shrinking daily. If you’re not out looking at homes right now you need to be. In order to qualify for the tax credit you need to have a fully executed sales agreement by April 30, 2010. And then you need to close by June 30, 2010.

If you want to take advantage of this first-time home buyer tax credit I strongly suggest you get started right away. It usually takes at least a few weeks to find the right home and then you might not win in the negotiation process. Another buyer could buy the house out from under you causing you to have to start the search again. It is better to get moving today and get under contract as quickly as possible.

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Homebuyer Tax Credit Extended and Expanded till April 2010

January 20, 2010

President Barack Obama signed a new law on Nov. 6, 2009 that extended the $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers and added a new $6,500 credit for existing homeowners.

The legislation extends the tax credit of up to $8,000 for qualifying first-time homebuyers that was set to expire on Nov. 30, 2009. First-time homebuyers, defined as those who have had no ownership interest in a principal residence over the last three years, can qualify for the tax credit by having a home purchase under contract by April 30, 2010.

Existing homeowners qualify for the tax credit of up to $6,500 if they have lived in their current residence for at least five years or more during the previous eight years and have purchased a home and entered into a binding contract by the end of April of 2010.

Both credits are available for purchases of “principal residences” with prices up to $800,000. The credit starts to phase out for individuals with income above $125,000 and for joint filers who earn more than $225,000. Previously, the credit for first-time homebuyers phased out for individuals with income above $75,000 and for joint filers with income above $150,000.

For more information go to the Internal Revenue Service’s Web site at and click the Tax benefits of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 link.

Source: Internal Revenue Service

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Not necessarily an $8,000 tax credit…but probably close!

November 13, 2009

I’ve recently been asked quite a few questions about the $8,000 first-time home-buyer tax credit. What needs to be understood is that you’re not necessarily getting the full $8,000. Your credit amount is based on the value of the home you purchase. It is the lesser of either 10% of the home’s cost or $8,000. So a $150,000 home will get the full $8,000 tax credit whereas a $50,000 home will get $50,000 x 10% or $5,000. The max amount is $8,000 so basically any house priced less than $80,000 will result in a tax credit less than $8,000, while any home priced over $80,000 will still only get the max amount of $8,000.

This blog post is only addressing this one simple question and is not a blanket statement about whether or not you might qualify for the tax credit. Please contact me if you have additional questions or simply ask them right here on I hope this explanation helped some of you.

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President Obama Signs Homebuyer Tax Credit Extension

November 11, 2009

This last Friday, President Barack Obama signed the new tax credit legislation which provides:

  • Extends the First-Time Home Buyer Credit of up to $8,000 to first-time home buyers until April 30, 2010.
  • Expands the credit to grant up to $6,500 credit to current home owners purchasing a new or existing home between November 7, 2009 and April 30, 2010.

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Breaking News: Congress Extends Tax Credit

November 6, 2009

Tax credit extension passes House and Senate

By Florida Realtors®

WASHINGTON – Nov. 5, 2009 – The $8,000, first-time homebuyer tax credit has not yet been extended beyond its Nov. 30 end date, but it’s very close to gaining a longer life.

The extension was added as an amendment to an existing bill, HR 3548, that extends unemployment benefits. The U.S. Senate passed that bill on Wednesday and, after debate, the U.S. House passed HR 3548 this afternoon. It now needs only President Obama’s signature to become law, and the White House has indicated it will sign it, perhaps as early as tomorrow.

Until the president signs the bill, however, it is not law.

In addition to extending the tax credit for first-time homebuyers under the current rules, the bill adds a smaller tax credit for move-up homebuyers who have lived in the house for five of the past seven years. The bill also increases the income limits of homebuyers from $75,000 (single) to $125,000; and from $150,000 (married) to $225,000.

Florida downpayment assistance

After the president signs the bill and extends the tax credit, the Florida Homebuyer Opportunity Program – a downpayment and closing costs assistance program relating to the federal tax credit -automatically gets extended too. The state still has about $28 million available for homebuyers. The money is essentially a loan to first-time buyers; they receive it upfront, use it for a downpayment or other costs, and pay it back once they get their federal refund.

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Gus Bilirakis responds to my letter supporting extending the $8,000 tax credit

October 20, 2009

Dear Chris:

Thank you for contacting me to express your support for extending and expanding the federal tax credit for first-time home buyers. I appreciate hearing from you.

I support lowering taxes on home purchases. As you may know, H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, was signed into law in February of this year. This legislation provided an $8,000 refundable credit for all first-time homes brought between January 1 and November 30, 2009. Several bills have been introduced in the House and the Senate that would extend the tax credit from anywhere from six months to one year, expand eligibility of the credit to multi-family properties used as the borrower’s primary residence, and eliminate income caps of $75,000 and $150,000.

I am reviewing these bills to determine how best to make home ownership more affordable and stabilize prices in the housing market. Your comments have provided a valuable perspective as I evaluate these bills. You may be certain that I will remember your support for expanding and extending the tax credit for first-time home buyers should I have the opportunity to consider relevant legislation in the future. I will also share your comments with my House colleagues, who will benefit from your views.

As a resident of Florida’s Ninth District, your comments and opinions are an important source of information to help me carry out my duties as your federal representative. In hat regard, please do not hesitate to contact me in the future on any issue important to you. Also, if you would like to be informed more frequently about my work in Congress and in Florida’s Ninth Congressional District, please visit my website at to sign up for regular email or to send me a message.

Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.

Sincerely yours,

Gus M. Bilirakis
Member of Congress

I’m aware that this letter was probably sent out to 23,000 other people that sent similar letters expressing support for expanding and extending the tax credit.

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Housing indicators are pointing in a positive direction

October 13, 2009

A recent Washington Post article pointed out that many of the housing indicators are pointing in the same positive direction. Several analysts attribute the improvements to the soon to expire $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers, historically low interest rates, and rock bottom prices in many areas.

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Homebuyers Tax Credit

May 17, 2009

yellow_bungalow2Buy a home and you get a tax break!

As part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, a First-time Homebuyer Tax Credit is now available. But this special tax break ends in 2009.

A homebuyer tax credit has been available for first-time homebuyers in Washington, D.C. for many years, and now first-time homebuyers nationwide can take advantage of a similar benefit.
In this article we’ll discuss some of the provisions of the credit, changes based on the new legislation, and explain how to use it.

Buying a first home is a big step!

Fortunately, trained professionals like your Realtor®, Chris O’Connor, are willing and able to help you through the process. In addition to the many benefits of homeownership, the homebuyer tax credit and more affordable prices make now an especially opportune time to purchase. Still, the commitment is a substantial one, and the National Association of Realtors® encourages you to ask questions and be informed about the decision you are making so that the home you buy is a home you can enjoy for years to come.

Am I Eligible?

First-time homebuyers who purchase a principle residence on April 9, 2008 and before December 1, 2009 are eligible. If you (and your spouse, if married) have not owned your Read more

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