It won’t happen immediately and it won’t apply to all seniors, but some tax relief is on the way for Pasco County seniors with incomes below $35,167.
That figure is based on 2023’s eligibility, but it will likely increase before the property tax break becomes effective for Pasco residents over age 65.
The Pasco County Commission approved an additional $50,000 homestead exemption for those meeting age and income eligibility, and it will take effect in 2025.
Pasco County Commissioner Seth Weightman championed the tax break, as he and his county board colleagues debated issues during the board’s budget hearings for this fiscal year.
Weightman wanted to take a more measured approach regarding the county’s Fire Municipal Services Taxing Unit (MSTU). Ultimately, the board approved an increase in that rate which, despite a compromise, was higher than Weightman initially said he would support.
During the debate, however, Weightman advocated for doing something to help its seniors who are living on a fixed income and are battling against the high cost of living.
The additional exemption is authorized under the Florida Constitution and the state’s general laws, according to Pasco County Attorney Jeffrey Steinsnyder, who brought back the ordinance to the board at its Dec. 5 meeting for a vote.
The estimated annual fiscal impact from the tax break works out to be around $3 million, according to County Administrator Mike Carballa.
Those eligible for the additional exemption will need to fill out paperwork each year and the Pasco County Property Appraiser’s Office will process it.
During a previous board hearing, Pasco County Property Appraiser Mike Wells said it will require additional staff, but his office will be able to manage that.
He told board members: “We’re willing to do that. I think our seniors deserve it, especially the ones on the fixed incomes.”
At that same meeting, Weightman said: ”With the expense of the world and our senior population getting priced out of here. I am happy to support this.”
Pasco Tax Collector Mike Fasano was also at that meeting and he praised the board’s action.
Fasano told the board: “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.
Based on the board’s Dec. 5 action, senior citizens are now a step closer to getting that relief, although it will be another year before they receive it.
Published December 20, 2023