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Saturday, Nov 17, 2018
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Roger Kesselbach: Don’t kill dream of home ownership with ‘home tax’

Buying and owning a home is an essential part of the American dream. You never forget that feeling of settling in to a newly purchased home.

For millions of Floridians, choosing a home in a managed community makes sense.

From landscape maintenance to fire protection, community associations provide unmatched ease of living at a fraction of the cost of what government would charge taxpayers for the same services.

But a bad new bill in the Florida Legislature threatens to derail that dream — or at least make it more expensive.

HB 203, known as the Home Tax, would raise homeowner association fees across the state anywhere from 10 percent to 20 percent — and in some cases upwards of 30 percent.

The bill would force homeowners to pay costs for someone else’s new home purchase in their community. It does this by shifting the financial burden of preparing estoppel letters from the buyer and seller to homeowners and the associations they live in.

What’s an estoppel letter? It’s an important legal document that protects potential home buyers by disclosing the liens, overdue fees and other money owed by the current homeowner to the association.

Estoppels are critical to ensuring consumer protection because they not only protect homeowners, home buyers and associations from having to bear the cost of someone else’s past due fees and assessments — they keep the dream of homeownership from becoming a nightmare, at a time when so many homes remain either short sales or in foreclosure.

But big special interests are proposing to turn this important document designed to protect homeowners into a tax increase on the very homeowners who have already paid their fees.

That’s no way to do business or treat homeowners or home buyers in Florida.

So which special interests are behind this?

Title companies and Realtors, who together already make up nearly 80 percent of all real estate closing costs, while estoppel fees account for just 1 percent.

And if this Home Tax passes, they will take even more of our hard-earned money.

These special interests filed this same bill last year, and it failed.

Millions of Florida homeowners — especially seniors on fixed incomes, young families and veterans — deserve better than an unfair new tax on their home.

Florida’s lawmakers should protect homeowners and smash the Home Tax by voting no on HB 203.

Learn more at www.SmashTheHomeTax.com.

Roger Kesselbach is president of the Space Coast Communities Association, one of Florida’s largest nonprofit community associations. It represents more than 20,000 residential units and their owners in Central Florida.

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