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In his annual State of the State address, Gov. Charlie Crist said Floridians are paying far less in property taxes than they used to.
"Property owners were seeing double-digit percentage increases in taxes levied prior to the beginning of my administration," Crist said on March 2, 2010. "Now, they have seen significant decreases over the past three years. Due to ... tax cuts and lower (property) values, 2009 property taxes were almost $3 billion below 2007 property taxes."
Previously, we rated Crist's claim that he passed the largest tax cut in Florida history. In this item, we'll focus on whether the amount of property tax relief matches Crist's description.
The relevant information to back up Crist's claim comes from a Senate committee hearing last month. In the meeting, James McAdams, the Department of Revenue's property tax oversight program director, gave an update on property tax collections across Florida.
According to McAdams, Florida property taxes collected between 2007 and 2009 dropped by $2.28 billion, or 7.5 percent, the Associated Press reported.
McAdams was unable to delineate how much of the drop was attributed to tax reforms implemented by the Legislature, and how much was a result of falling property values.
"I would classify that as dropping like a rock," said Senate Finance and Taxation Committee Chairman Thad Altman, R-Viera.
Altman's comment prompted a response from Crist during his televised remarks in front of a joint session of the Legislature.
"Sen. Altman, we agree that does, indeed, qualify as 'dropping like a rock,' " Crist said.
The Department of Revenue's 2009 annual report, meanwhile, included an even bigger reduction. The annual report said property tax collections fell from $31.04 billion in 2007, to $28.14 billion in 2009. That's a $2.9 billion decrease in three years. (See page 32 of the report).
In his State of the State address, Crist said "2009 property taxes were almost $3 billion below 2007 property taxes." A report prepared for a Senate committee pegs the number at about $2.28 billion and the Department of Revenue's annual report pegs the number at $2.9 billion. With the qualifier "almost," that's close enough not to distort the broader point. We rate Crist's claim True.
Senate Finance and Tax Committee, meeting agenda, Feb. 4, 2010.
State of the State address, March 2, 2010
"Tax bills shrink 7.5% in 3 years," St. Petersburg Times, Feb. 4, 2010
Florida Property Valuations and Tax Data books, years 2007 and 2008
Department of Revenue 2009 Annual Report
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