Dept. of Revenue: Condos not covered under new drywall tax break
By Allison Ross
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Updated: 10:25 p.m. Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Posted: 6:55 p.m. Wednesday, June 16, 2010
The Florida Department of Revenue has decided that condominiums and apartments are not covered by a new law that gives homeowners with tainted drywall property tax breaks.
The legislation is meant to offer a consistent tax break by saying that assessments of homes with defective drywall must be reduced to reflect loss of value.
According to the law, the value of the building should be assessed at $0 in instances where homeowners have had to move out. The owner would still pay taxes on the value of the land.
Because the law’s wording states that the tax break is intended for single-family residential properties, the Department of Revenue ruled Tuesday that it only applies to detached homes.
“The statute is not clear. … This has been a question being discussed for a couple weeks,” said Robert Babin, legislative affairs director for the department. “We’ve come to the conclusion that single-family means only detached homes.”
On Monday, Gov. Charlie Crist’s press office released a statement attributed to Babin that condos but not apartments would be included under the law.
Gov. Crist’s press secretary, Sterling Ivey, said Tuesday that the release was incorrect.
“I apologize for our office providing incorrect or unclear information, ” Ivey wrote in an e-mail today .
Babin pointed out that, while the law only pertains to single-family detached dwellings, there’s nothing saying that condos and other buildings shouldn’t be appraised based on loss of value from defective drywall.
“They may not fall under the law, but … the next time (the property appraisers) do their appraisals, the law and these other considerations can be taken into account,” Babin said.
Still, Paul Wilkis, property manager for The Whitney condominiums in West Palm Beach – which has found defective drywall in a number of its units – said he was irked that condos were excluded.
“I think that it is outrageous that this type of discrimination can be made on an issue with such far reaching and costly consequences,” Wilkis said.
County property appraisers had already been offering tax breaks for affected homeowners before the law was passed. Palm Beach County Property Appraiser Gary Nikolits was cutting values of homes with Chinese drywall – including condos – by 70 percent, while Broward County has said it was reducing values of affected homes by 50 percent.
Pamela Lamb of the Palm Beach County appraiser’s office said her office had not yet received word from the revenue department on its decision, so had not yet discussed appraisals of condos with defective drywall.