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Amendment 4 offers tax breaks for some, big revenue drain for local governments

It is the longest of the 11 amendments on Florida’s longest-ever ballot, and its multi-billion dollar impact could mean major tax relief for first-time homebuyers, owners of second homes, small businesses and, especially, large corporations. But it could also mean higher taxes for Florida residents and massive cuts to struggling local governments.

As voters decide whether to vote up or down on Amendment 4, hanging in the balance could be a few hundred dollars in tax cuts for the average new homebuyer, and as much as $600,000 in tax breaks for multimillion-dollar properties like the famed Fontainebleau hotel in Miami Beach.

Proponents of Amendment 4 argue it will create thousands of new jobs while reinvigorating the state’s troubled housing market and saving homeowners millions of dollars.

Opponents paint a much grimmer picture: Full-time Floridians shouldering the tax burden of snowbirds and corporations, while governments are forced to make bone-deep cuts to social services.

“It will definitely mean cuts to services, unless [local officials] raise the millage rates,” said Jack McCabe, CEO of McCabe Research & Consulting, a real estate firm in Deerfield Beach. McCabe said he is in favor of property tax reform and efforts to revive the housing market, but called Amendment 4 a “patch job” that will shift tax costs from businesses onto long-time homeowners.

Florida voters will ultimately decide, as the amendment — along with 10 others on this year’s lengthy ballot — requires a 60 percent margin to make it into the Constitution.

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