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Property Taxes in the Virgin Islands


Dear Source:
As a former (7+ year) resident of the Virgin Islands, now a resident of the State of Florida, I would like to comment on the issue of escalating property taxes. The system in Florida works very well in ensuring that residents will not be forced from their homes by escalating taxes.
If a property owner declares his Florida home to be his principal place of residence, he files for homestead exemption. First, he/she gets a $25,000 reduction on the County Tax Assessor's valuation. This is the homestead exemption.
Secondly, and of infinitely greater value, is the S.O.H. The S.O.H. (Save Our Homes) works to the benefit of the homeowner. It limits increases on the property taxes on homesteaded property to a maximum of 3% per year.
Florida has no income tax. With millions of seniors on fixed incomes, it would be easy for the State Government to tax these seniors out of their homes, and without S.O.H, it would have happened.
A homeowner is protected by SOH. When the property is sold, the County Tax Assessor re-assesses the property based on current values, and the new owner will pay taxes starting at current tax base. However, he can file for Homestead exemption and when he does, he will fall under S.O.H until he sells.
My neighbor down the street has a home identical to mine in size. He pays $398 per year less than I pay. He pays less because he purchased his home before I purchased mine. My dollar increase will always be higher than his because my taxation assessment started at a higher base amount. If my neighbor and I sell our houses in the same year, the buyers of both properties will end up with the same new (high) tax base.
To protect its residents from having to sell their homes because they cannot pay their property taxes, the VI government needs to put an S.O.H law in place. If it can be done in Florida, it can be done in the VI.
Good luck and go for it!
Check on leepa.org (Lee County official property appraiser's web site) for how S.O.H. works.
Margaret White
SW Florida

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