Our rights do not originate with government, but they are to be "secured" by government.
Formerly: Libertarian Party of Citrus county

Monday, November 5, 2012

Unprincipled Stand of LPF

By Tom Rhodes, Chairman LPF Platform Committee, 11/5/2012

The LPF’s stand on the proposed Florida Constitution amendments is clearly unprincipled and against our own party’s platform. The State Government Section of our platform (1.4 ) clearly states: We support Equality under the Law, and condemn any law that either rewards or punishes any individual based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or any other group identification. Each person has the same inalienable rights. It is the States duty to protect those rights for each individual equally.

Platform Section VI. TAXES reads as follows:

1. The legislature should find more voluntary means of supporting state services, such as lotteries and user fees.

2. Taxation of privately owned real property should be eliminated. In effect, it makes the state the owner of all lands by forcing individuals to pay rent to the state or forfeit their title.

3. The personal property tax on Florida businesses should be repealed.

4. Tax favoritism should be illegal. Abatements, subsidies, credits, or other incentives to businesses based on geographical area, job creation, or any other criteria deny equal protection under the law.

5. Sales tax on used merchandise that is resold results in double taxation and should be eliminated.

6. Adding sales tax to products already subject to specific state taxes, such as gasoline and cigarettes, should be ended. This practice results in double taxation, as consumers are paying a tax on a tax.

7. We oppose any sales or use tax on the Internet.

The official published position of the LPF on Florida’s constitutional amendments includes:

2) Veterans Disabled Due To Combat Injury; Homestead Property Tax Discount - This amendment would expand a special homestead property exemption to include combat disabled veterans who were not Florida residents when they entered the military. The discount would be based on a percentage equal to that of the veteran’s permanent, service-related disability. (Read full text)

LPF Recommendation: YES

The LPF's position is that taxation of privately owned real property should be eliminated entirely. In effect, it makes the state the owner of all lands by forcing individuals to pay rent to the state or forfeit their title. While the LPF maintains that all laws should be applied equally rather than the laws being designed to selectively benefit or harm certain groups, in this instance the opportunity to reduce the tax burden imposed by the state is a step in the right direction towards total elimination of the property tax. A reduction in collected property taxes, even though directed at a certain group, will result in limiting the size and scope of government which will benefit all individual Floridians. The LPF will continue to work to reduce the property tax with the ultimate goal of complete elimination.

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4) Property Tax Limitations; Property Value Decline; Reduction For Nonhomestead Assessment Increases; Delay Of Scheduled Repeal - This amendment would prevent increases in the assessed value of homestead properties and some non-homestead properties when the market values for those properties decrease. It also would reduce the annual growth assessment cap on non-homestead properties from 10% to 5%. In addition, it would provide first-time homesteaders with an additional exemption equal to 50% of the home’s market value. However, that exemption would drop to zero after five years. (Read full text)

LPF Recommendation: YES

While this amendment is not perfect by any means, it will have the effect of reducing real property taxes, or at least slow the rate of tax increase, for most residential and commercial property owners in Florida.

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9) Homestead Property Tax Exemption For Surviving Spouse Of Military Veteran Or First Responder -This amendment would give a homestead property tax exemption to the surviving spouse of a military veteran or first responder killed in the line of duty. The provision would authorize the Legislature to totally or partially exempt a surviving spouse’s homestead property from being taxed.

LPF Recommendation: YES

For the same reasons stated in support of Amendment 2, the LPF recommends a "YES" vote on Amendment 9 in order to continue to reduce the property tax burden on Floridians resulting in a less taxes collected by the state and a limiting of the size and scope of government. The LPF will continue to work to reduce the property tax for all Floridians with the ultimate goal of complete elimination.

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11) Additional Homestead Exemption; Low-Income Seniors Who Maintain Long-Term Residency On Property; Equal To Assessed Value - This amendment would authorize the Legislature to let counties and municipalities grant an additional homestead tax exemption for low-income seniors. The exemption would be equal to the assessed value of a homestead property, if: its market value is less than $250,000; the owner has maintained permanent residence there for at least 25 years; the owner is at least 65; and the owner has a low household income under law.

LPF Recommendation: YES

This amendment is slightly different than Amendments 2 and 9 because it only authorizes the Legislature to allow (rather than mandate) counties and municipalities to grant additional homestead exemptions to low-income seniors who meet certain conditions. The most efficient and accountable form of government is that which is most easily accessible by the people, the smallest, and closest to home. This amendment will result in a grant of additional authority to our counties and municipalities. By placing this decision into the hands of our local governments the citizens of Florida will have a greater ability to express their opinions to their local elected officials through petition and via the ballot box. The LPF believes that the property tax should be eliminated entirely rather than bit by bit to certain groups, however, the LPF supports continued reduction in the property tax burden of Floridians as we continue to work towards total elimination.

Although these positions are in the spirit of the Platform position to reduce/eliminate property taxes, they clearly violates the for more principled and repeated positions and themes of the LPF Tax favoritism should be illegal and condemnation any law that either rewards or punishes any individual based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or any other group identification.

All of those amendments apply unequal treatment under the law, and reward certain groups preferential treatment under the law. In no way can these positions be considered to be principled libertarian positions.

The LPF official positions only establish that special rights and privileges for some is acceptable. “The LPF believes that the property tax should be eliminated entirely rather than bit by bit to certain groups, however, the LPF supports continued reduction in the property tax burden of Floridians as we continue to work towards total elimination.” The official position recognizes that this is an unprincipled position, and does nothing to explain why in any of these instances unequal treatment under the law should be accepted, the idea that some people getting less taxes while working on all people having less taxes undermines the very principles of liberty our country was founded.

Since none of those amendments promote or even recognize the desire to eliminate property taxes, and all promote tax favoritism, how can we say Tax Favoritism Should Be Illegal and tell voters to vote Yes, on constitutional amendments that promote tax favoritism?

Calling ourselves the “Party of Principle” then telling people to vote for unequal treatment under the law is not only contradictory, but clearly unprincipled.

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