2016 General Election: Amendment 4

This is what you’ll see on your ballot come Aug. 30, or, for you awesome early voters, sometime before then:

NO. 4

Solar Devices or Renewable Energy Source Devices; Exemption From Certain
Taxation and Assessment
Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to authorize the Legislature,
by general law, to exempt from ad valorem taxation the assessed value of solar
or renewable energy source devices subject to tangible personal property tax,
and to authorize the Legislature, by general law, to prohibit consideration of
such devices in assessing the value of real property for ad valorem taxation
purposes. This amendment takes effect January 1, 2018, and expires on
December 31, 2037.

What that really means:

This amendment is kind of a big deal for businesses who want to use solar energy. That’s because installing solar panels is really expensive, and if this is approved, businesses could get a little break on their property taxes if they install solar panels or other renewable energy. Here’s how it would work: if a business whose property is worth $1 million installs solar panels worth $300,000, now their business’ property is worth $1.3 million, right? Well this amendment would mean they’re not taxed on the $300,000 part, just the original $1 million.

While homes already have this tax exemption, it’ll make solar cheaper for businesses. The amendment is supported by everyone from the Florida Retail Federation (which represents everyone from Publix to small businesses like Kanvas Spa & Boutique), to the The Nature Conservancy and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

YES on Amendment 4 means you support property tax exemptions for solar power or other renewable power in homes, businesses and industrial properties.

NO on Amendment 4 means you don’t want any more tax exemptions beyond the exemptions that already exist.

If at least 60 percent of you voters say yes, businesses won’t have to pay tax on their solar panels or other renewable energies. If you say no, they still do (like they do now). It would begin in Jan. 1, 2018 and last for 20 years.

Property taxes fund things like local road maintenance, police protection, safe building regulations, and sewage treatment, so they’re important. Still, few people oppose this bill (well, except for Al Sharpton, but we’re not really sure why). Even Florida Power & Light is all for it, probably because if they eventually start installing solar panels it will mean a tax break for them.