If you held title to a certain residential property in Delray Beach, Florida the annual property tax because of the town might be either $600 or $2,800. What determines the worth owed? The answer may shock you. Your status as a person domiciled full amount of time in the state of Florida vs. your status as a seasonal resident, aka, “snow birds “.The answer to the question appears to violate the strict scrutiny standard of the equal protection clause of the constitution.
The legislature has seen fit to allow towns to tax “snow birds” several times the amount of tax while they do full-time residents. The folks who belong to the larger tax bracket would also appear to belong to a protected class of seasonal sate residents. Moreover, this class includes a fundamental right traveling pursuant to Federal case law. In a relevant case, seasonal residents alleged that the Department of Labor and Industries wrongfully denied workers compensation rights as unconstitutional as it violated their fundamental right to travel. The court held that the exclusion for seasonal workers unconstitutionally infringed on the seasonal residents’right traveling and denied them equal protection of the law. The court held that the exclusion constituted a penalty on the seasonal residents’fundamental right to travel. Macias v. Dep’t of Labor & Industry 100 Wn.2d 263 (1983).
Any such discrimination against an individual in violation of his / her fundamental rights, through state action can just only be upheld by way of a court where in actuality the discrimination is justified by way of a compelling governmental interest, the policy should be narrowly tailored to attain desired goal and there can not be considered a less restrictive method to effectively achieve the compelling government interest. McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Com., 514 U.S. 334 (1995); H-CHH Associates v. Citizens for Representative Government 193 Cal.App.3d 1193 (1987).
As an individual who has no stake in the niche matter of this informative article, and an unbiased observer of this tax practice, I am unable to comprehend what the motivation of the state is for the excess tax beyond simply raising additional revenue by discriminating against those individuals who wish to assert their fundamental right to travel tax fyle. The Florida trial court has held that the Florida statute providing for additional homestead protection for those residents who lived in the state for more than five years violated the “right traveling and equal protection of the laws under the United States Constitution. Osterndorf v. Turner, 426 So.2d 539 (1983).
In preparing this informative article, I’ve questioned several permanent Florida residents regarding these tax practice and they all agree totally that though the state and individual towns clearly need additional police, fire fighters, improved public schools and repair of streets and highways, the burden should not fall on the shoulders of those who utilize services the least, if at all.
One possible means to fix the situation might be a temporary resident tax paid by those who rent through properties more than four months per year, thereby garnishing revenue for the commercial use of residential real estate in Florida. Well-known problem with this solution is that it could have an important detrimental affect on tourism, the lifeblood of the Floridian economy. Another proposed solution is to bring back the impound tax on automobiles. This tax’s automobiles brought into the state for a prolonged time frame for those cars registered in another state, or owned by “snow birds “.The notion of this tax is apparently right, in that those who find themselves using the Florida roads will pay a tax because of its use, where they are not paying the state for registration.
What’s the gist of this? There are no easy answers, but disparate treatment through the tax code of a protected class of people through wanting to limit one’s right traveling is unquestionably not the least restrictive means to an end.