FERNANDINA BEACH WEATHER

Ana Maria Rodriguez files bill to expand low-income senior housing property tax exemptions

By Christine Jordan Sexton
FloridaPolitics.com
September 28, 2021

A technical fix would alter the ownership structure required for tax exemptions.

Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez filed a bill this week to expand the type of business arrangements that could qualify for a property tax exemption meant for not-for-profit homes for the aged.

To qualify for the exemption currently, the home must be owned by a not-for-profit corporation or by a Florida limited partnership, the sole general partner of which is a not-for-profit corporation.

Rodriguez’s measure, SB 362, would expand current law to allow such Florida limited partnerships to qualify for the tax exemption so long as the for-profit corporation is wholly owned by a not-for-profit corporation.

Home for aging facilities that meet the ownership requirements would qualify for property tax exemptions on spaces where religious services are held and places where nursing and medical services are provided. Property appraisers may also exempt from the tax rolls spaces for individual units or apartments that are occupied by low-income state residents aged 62 and older.

The bill addresses a 2015 ruling from the 10th Judicial Circuit Court, which found that Lakeland Highlands Road Center LLC did not qualify for the property tax exemption because of its ownership structure, according to an Economic and Demographic Research analysis of the fiscal impact of the proposal.

Rodriguez filed a similar proposal (SB 1330) last year. In addition to broadening the ownership arrangements that qualified for the property tax exemption, last year’s bill also tinkered with some of the other requirements that must be met for the property tax reduction. Initially, Rodriguez’s bill would have changed a requirement that 75% of the facility’s residents be 62 years old, lowering it to 55 years old instead.

But economists predicted it would have reduced local government revenue by $10.6 million, in state fiscal year 2022-23, which would have required a special two thirds vote by both the House and Senate to pass.

After the Senate Finance and Tax Committee deleted the age change from the bill, economists predicted it would have a $100,000 recurring impact on local governments.

SB 362, which will be deliberated when the lawmakers meet in January, does not alter the existing age requirements.

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