Jacksonville Council Votes Against Increasing Homestead Exemption, Says City Could Lose $36 Million

Apr 12, 2017

Duval Property Appraiser Jerry Holland holds a homestead exemption form.
Credit Lindsey Kilbride / WJCT News

The Florida Legislature is considering allowing voters to decide if they want an additional property tax break by increasing the homestead exemption.

The Jacksonville City Council passed a resolution Tuesday, 18-1, urging state lawmakers who represent Jacksonville to oppose the idea. Councilman Reggie Brown voted against the measure.

Although homeowners would save money, the city would lose more than $30 million.

Duval Property Appraiser Jerry Holland was visiting the county’s homestead exemption department down the hall from his office Wednesday, holding a homestead exemption form. Florida homeowners are eligible to claim the tax break if they occupy the home as their primary residence on Jan 1. 

“We have now about 188,000 homeowners with homestead exemptions in Duval County,” Holland said.

The current exemption reduces the taxable value of the home $50,000 off the first $100,000.

This proposal would increase the exemption by $25,000. That’s “anybody owning a home whose market value would be between $75,000 and $100,000,” Holland said.

The exemption is applied to non-school property taxes. For Duval homeowners, that means an additional savings of nearly $300.

“For every $25,000 worth of exemptions you’re saving about $286,” Holland said.

When it’s all added up, the city could lose about $36.6 million — money that could go toward police or parks or roads, Holland said.

“It means typically what happens across the state is a county has a choice, they can raise taxes to affect the reduction that they’ll lose by the exemption, or they can cut services,” Holland said. “And typically the political pressure is to cut services.”

Holland said unlike the City Council, his office doesn’t have a stance on the state measure.

The bill has passed one committee in the Senate, with two to go. A similar House version hasn’t been assigned to any committees yet. If the legislature passes a bill, Floridians would have to approve it by referendum on next year’s ballot.

Reporter Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at lkilbride@wjct.org, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride.