Property owners may soon have to pay beach taxes
Updated: Friday, March 21 2014, 06:48 PM CDT
It happened years ago on Okaloosa Island. Now, the Florida Supreme Court is saying that beach property owners in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties are going to have to pay millions of dollars in taxes. Some owners vow to keep on fighting, saying they are being taxed twice for their homes.
It's been a long legal battle drawn out over the course of many years, but that fight may finally be at an end for property owners and Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that property owners for homes like this are going to have to pay up, and that could mean millions of dollars in property tax for our two counties.
Escambia County collected $105 million in taxes from Pensacola Beach property owners since 2004, but there is still $20 million owed. It's the same story down in Navarre where Santa Rosa County stands to collect about $10 million. Half of those totals goes to the county government. The other half to county schools so it's a significant windfall. Property owners have been fighting this in the courts. Some are ready to give up, others plan to stay the course.
"We're not very happy, needless to say. We're happy that we live out here. We're not happy that we feel like we get double taxed. So we're just going to keep fighting it and see what we can do," said Kali Brigham, a Pensacola Beach property owner.
"They've been getting bills each year. Most of them have paid a good faith payment. Some have paid the whole thing. Some have paid nothing over that time. And a lot of that was to stem the tide of the interest rate that also runs," said Janet Holley, Escambia Co. Tax Collector.
Depending on appeals and any further rulings, Escambia County could start collecting that $20 million in owed property tax as early as April 4.