It won’t show up on this coming year’s property tax bills, but qualifying senior citizens are expected to get a tax break in Pasco County beginning in 2025.
The Pasco County Commission signaled its intention to provide an additional $50,000 homestead exemption for individuals over age 65 who own their own home, are a permanent resident and whose adjusted household income does not exceed $35,167 (based on this year’s eligibility requirements).
At its Oct. 24 meeting, the board voted 4-0, with Commission Chairman Jack Mariano absent, to schedule a public hearing on the proposed tax break at its Dec. 5 meeting.
The public hearing is required before the board can take action on an ordinance establishing the additional exemption for qualifying seniors.
County Administrator Mike Carballa has calculated the estimated annual fiscal impacts of the tax break and he said it works out to be about $3 million.
The additional exemption is authorized under the Florida Constitution and the state’s general laws, according to Pasco County Attorney Jeffrey Steinsnyder, who was directed to bring back an ordinance to enact the tax break.
Pasco County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey asked how the exemption would be administered.
“Who has to certify people’s incomes? How does that work?” she asked, noting that it seems like it will be a difficult task.
Pasco County Property Appraiser Mike Wells responded: “Yes, it is going to be a lot of work. We are going to have to hire a couple of more folks to do it. But we are willing to do it. I believe it is the right thing to do. I’m not on the board anymore, but I think with everything going on with — you know — it’s the right thing to do and we’re obviously ready to do it.”
Steinsnyder noted that recipients will be required to file paperwork to obtain the exemption.
“Every year they would have to come back and reapply. It’s going to be a big job. But absolutely, they’ve earned it,” Wells said. In Pinellas County, he added, it has worked very well.
Starkey asked if those applying just need to supply their income tax information.
Wells responded: “There’s a process, but we will be able to manage that. We’re willing to do that. I think our seniors deserve it, especially the ones on the fixed incomes.”
Commissioner Seth Weightman, who championed the additional exemption during the board’s budget hearing, asked Steinsnyder if there is flexibility to reduce the exemption, if there were future changes in the market.
Steinsnyder replied: “I don’t see any (legal) reason why you couldn’t amend your ordinance to lower it. There may be some political ramifications to that.”
Weightman then made it clear that he supports the maximum exemption.
“I’m for the $50,000, with the expense of the world and our senior population getting priced out of here. I am happy to support this,” he said.
Wells said this isn’t the first time the proposed exemption has come up, because he recalls it coming up when he was serving on the county board. He said he’s happy it’s moving forward.
Pasco Tax Collector Mike Fasano praised the board’s action.
“I think what you’ve done just now is going to help our seniors … We have so many seniors in this community that call us; they can’t pay their bill.
“They hear that their neighbor in another county has been getting that additional $50,000 homestead, (and they ask) ‘Is it available for me?’
“I tell them, it will be one day. We’ve got a commission that’s going to be working diligently for you, making sure you get it,’” Fasano said.
A public hearing on the issue is scheduled for the 1:30 p.m. session on Dec. 5, at the West Pasco Government Center government board room, 8731 Citizens Drive, in New Port Richey.
Published November 01, 2023