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What you need to know about the 2020 elections across the greater Tampa Bay region.

Amendment 6 Would Transfer Veterans Property Tax Break To Surviving Spouses

Row of houses along a street
Hamza Jawaid - iStock
Amendment 6 would allow a property tax break for veterans to transfer to their spouses if they die.

Supporters say it will help veterans' spouses, who currently lose the tax discount if their loved one dies, and won't cost a lot to implement. Opponents say it reduces revenue for local governments.

Florida voters will decide in November whether to expand a constitutional amendment giving property tax breaks to older veterans wounded in combat. The ballot initiative known as Amendment 6 would allow spouses of those veterans to keep the exemption if their loved ones die.

The existing amendment gives Homestead Property Tax discounts to veterans age 65 and older who were disabled during combat and honorably discharged, but it unintentionally left their families behind.

Rep. Sam Killebrew [R-Polk] pushed to get Amendment 6 on the ballot in the state legislature. He said after he presented it on the floor, another lawmaker told him his aunt experienced this problem when her husband died.

"She got her tax bill and it was like $500 more than it normally was, and of course, like a lot of folks on fixed incomes, she didn’t have the money,” Killebrew said. “So family had to chip in and whatever, and so he [the other representative] said, ‘I can tell you this will be good.’”

The legislature voted to put Amendment 6 on the ballot.

If it passes, spouses will be able to keep the exemption if they hold a title to the home and permanently live there. They can also transfer the discount to a new property in some cases.

Killebrew said if a spouse sells their home and moves to another one worth more money, they can only claim an exemption for the value of the original home. They lose the benefit if they remarry.

A house bill analysis found the amendment would reduce local property taxes by $1 million the first year it's implemented and then $4 million the following years. About 40 percent of those funds would otherwise go to schools.

That's one of the reasons the League of Women Voters opposes the amendment. The organization says it's against reducing revenues for local services and limiting local governments' ability to control their budgets based on the needs of their county.

Voters will make the final call on Nov. 3.

I cover health care for WUSF and the statewide journalism collaborative Health News Florida. I’m passionate about highlighting community efforts to improve the quality of care in our state and make it more accessible to all Floridians. I’m also committed to holding those in power accountable when they fail to prioritize the health needs of the people they serve.
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