The annual Florida legislative session begins next week. Among the bills lawmakers will consider is one giving property tax breaks to people who suffered damage as a result of hurricanes last year.
The measure would reimburse certain First Coast homeowners for property taxes paid on houses destroyed by Hurricane Matthew.
Sen. Travis Hutson, R-Palm Coast, wants homeowners with the worst property damage to get relief through their local property appraisers. That would be on top of state and federal emergency funds already available.
Hutson’s bill would set up a dedicated state fund of no more than $6 million dollars that homeowners could draw from next year. He said his effort is similar to one in 2004, when Florida was rocked by four hurricanes with damage totaling $45 billion dollars.
“We had some relief to property owners that ... were not able to enter their homes for a long extended time. So, what this bill does is kind of mirrors that,” he said. “If you’re still not in your home and you haven't been there months on end, you’re not responsible for the (full) 12 months worth of property taxes.”
Property owners would fill out a notarized application with supporting documents and send them to their local property appraiser, who will calculate how much tax was paid last year and multiply it by a yet to be specified ratio to determine a “partial reimbursement.”
In order to qualify, a home will need to be deemed uninhabitable for at least two months following a storm.
State figures show storms cost Florida more than $1.5 billion last year, including nearly $730 million in individual property damage from Hurricane Matthew alone.
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