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Additional tax relief proposed for Pinellas County seniors

Ashley Morales

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Photo by Trinity Nguyen/Unsplash.

At a recent Pinellas County Commission strategic planning session, County Commissioner Charlie Justice introduced an idea for a new proposal aimed at providing additional tax relief for low-income seniors. The proposal would focus on expanding the homestead tax exemption for some of the county’s most vulnerable citizens.

Justice seeks to double the existing homestead tax exemption from $25,000 to $50,000 in the unincorporated areas of Pinellas County, which is the maximum allowable by state law. This initiative is a response to the rising costs experienced by seniors, aiming to alleviate financial burdens for those most in need.

“Two out of the last three years, we’ve been able to reduce the overall millage rate for property owners all across Pinellas. We weren’t able to do it last year, so we kept thinking about how, if we can’t afford to do it all the way across, maybe we could do some targeted [relief],” he said. 

“Florida law is very specific about exemptions and tax relief for individual groups, but the State of Florida does provide for low-income seniors, and Pinellas had not taken advantage of the full exemption. So that’s when I thought, ‘Well, maybe we should,’ with all the other things that are happening with people’s finances.”

While the County can enact this exemption in unincorporated areas, municipalities within their boundaries must also enact it to benefit from this relief. The proposed exemption would not apply to the Countywide property tax. Several cities in Pinellas County already provide varying levels of tax exemptions for seniors, such as Clearwater ($25,000), Largo ($25,000), Pinellas Park ($25,000), and St. Petersburg ($15,000).

“Tierra Verde, Lealman, Feather Sound, East Lake, Palm Harbor, almost a third of our county is unincorporated. So everyone in those areas that qualifies by age and income will see some of that relief,” Justice said. “It will vary from home to home, but for the average, it doubles from maybe $50 to $100 on their savings. It’s not sizable, but when everything else is going up, it’s like there’s something going down. The state legislature has passed some significant cost to us, so it’s hard for the County to provide broad relief to a lot of areas. We have to be creative and find ways to target areas that need relief.”

During the work session, Justice said there was a positive reception to the idea. County attorneys will now draft the ordinance, which will go through the normal approval process and require a public hearing.

“It’s about a $250,000 impact of loss revenue for the county, so we’ll have to factor that in as we go through the budget process,” Justice added. “It’s something that we can handle with our normal growth. County-wide, our values continue to grow, so in a big budget, it doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s still $250,000. However, I think that’s something that we can absorb in order to provide relief to those who need it the most.”

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Mike C

    March 5, 2024at9:13 am

    Tax base and the revenue generated continues to grow but the thirst to spend on wasteful pet projects will suck revenue dry. Government needs to treat tax dollars as they would their own but it seems they view tax revenue as an endless opportunity to tax and spend. Fortunately for the tax and spend leadership, the new luxury condos with massive property taxes and close to zero school burden, will serve as a yearly revenue source for years to come. Here’s an idea, increase and utilize revenue generated from new business base? Yet the Mayor has done little to nothing to attract business to St Pete.

  2. Avatar

    Nate Bifano

    March 3, 2024at11:01 am

    Ms. Laura Sherman, thanks for your reply and those of others! My wife and I are down here from Pa. visiting with our Senior Family members. I too have agreed for many years, that why must we continue to pay such HIGH SCHOOL tax’s over through those years while we have not had children attending??

  3. Avatar

    Hugh Hazeltine

    March 3, 2024at7:53 am

    What would qualify as a “low income senior”.

  4. Avatar

    Lucy Sage

    March 2, 2024at6:12 pm

    1. Tax assessments on long-time homeowners are limited to a very small increase, so the tax bill is also limited.

    2. Unfortunately, I never had children, but educated children are in the interest of the well-being and economy of a city.

  5. Avatar

    Michele

    March 2, 2024at10:44 am

    How about if we just get rid of taxes period? And no more paying BIG BROTHER aka THE IRS.

  6. Avatar

    Mike Leffurd

    March 2, 2024at8:12 am

    With the price of housing skyrocketing are they really losing anything? In just a few years my house doubles in taxable value without homeowners putting any additional burden on the county or city. In other words, the county gets a huge increase in tax collected money without any additional work on their part other than hiring someone to help shovel all those extra dollars into their pockets.

  7. Avatar

    LAURA SHERMAN

    March 1, 2024at4:08 pm

    How about you stop taxing us for schools we don’t have children in and have all your new luxury developers pay for it!

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