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Tax commission snagged on words over tax swap plan

What happens if the proposed constitutional amendment you vote on isn't as artfully drawn as the alternative you didn't approve? And if you replace one with the other does that set you up for a legal challenge?

Those are the questions the Style and Drafting Committee of the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission are grappling with Friday over the high-stakes amendment they placed on the ballot last week to swap property taxes for sales taxes.

The amendment is now going through the editing process in a cramped conference room in the second floor of a 1940s-era Tallahassee office building. The committee has postponed final wording of the measure until next week at a Thursday meeting. But so far, it has agreed to make these changes:

* use the wording of the draft written by Commissioner Patricia Levesque for most of the wording of the almost identical proposal by Commissioner and lead sponsor John McKay;

* the effective date for the cap on assessments on non-homestead property will be from 10 to 5 percent will be the 2009 tax year;

* limit the ability of school districts to levy taxes beginning in 2010-11 by reducing their potential miilage rate from 10 mills to 5 mills.