9 Actions Florida Should Take to Help Taxpayers Impacted by Hurricane Ian

1.     Postpone tax notices and waive penalties or interest for late tax filings in affected areas

2.     Extend the date for residents to take advantage of the tax discounts they would normally receive for paying property taxes and special assessments in November and postpone or defer the deadline for property tax installment payments

3.     Protect individual and business taxpayers from the risks for notices that they will likely not receive because their home or business addresses is not accessible anymore

4.     Issue no new audits in severely impacted areas, extend the statute of limitations and postpone existing audits that haven’t reached the assessment stage because these can’t be responded to while entire communities are still recovering

5.     Create procedures for fairly estimating taxes which can’t be calculated because records have been destroyed by the storm, moving away from the current method which significantly overestimates activity if no records are available

6.     Initiate procedures to offer payment plan assistance for late taxes, rather than resorting to the standard collection methods, like liens, levies, or bank freezes

7.     Retroactively apply the recently passed law that provides property tax refunds for residential property rendered uninhabitable as a result of a catastrophic event

8.     Provide tangible personal property relief and allow n on-residential properties rendered uninhabitable to receive property tax refunds

9.     Get Congress to pass a Disaster Tax Relief Act that includes provisions from past packages, including elements such as an Employee Retention Credit, an enhanced casualty loss deduction, and other relief provisions

Other Resources

Florida TaxWatch Statement on Hurricane Ian Recovery

Community Involvement

The Impacts of Lawsuits Against Local Governments for Business Damages

The “home rule” provisions contained in Florida’s Constitution afford broad powers to local governments, including the power to pass and enforce local ordinances. This broad home rule authority is limited by “preemption,” where the state or federal government has already legislated an issue, and standards of reasonableness. Local governments are precluded from passing ordinances that are inconsistent with the State Constitution or state or federal law, or that are unreasonable or arbitrary. Anyone who is adversely affected by a local ordinance may initiate a cause of civil action against the local government.

The 2022 Florida Legislature is debating two pieces of legislation that add to the process of passing local ordinances and provides additional rights to businesses and residents who wish to challenge those ordinances. Bills under consideration include:

SB620/CS/HB569 --- Authorizes businesses that have been operating in Florida for at least three years to bring suit against local ordinances that directly result in a 15 percent loss—or projected loss—of profit and recover damages. 

CS/SB280/HB403 --- Requires municipal and county governments to prepare a business impact estimate before the enactment of an ordinance; requires ordinances to be suspended if challenged as being preempted by the state or is arbitrary or unreasonable; and allows the courts to award attorney fees, costs, and damages to the complainant if it prevails. The two bills were identical when filed, but SB280 has been amended extensively, favorably addressing a number of stakeholder concerns.

Florida TaxWatch undertakes this independent review to better understand the potential impacts of this suite of legislation on local governments, Florida businesses, and on the Florida taxpayer.

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