The 25 percent Sumter County tax increase hoax

Juan Rodriguez

Please consider the following counterpoint regarding Craig Estep’s June 7 Op-Ed titled: The real math behind the 25% Sumter County tax increase. Mr. Estep is perpetuating a conspiracy theory that is being chanted by a small, but vocal, group of people who are trying to convince Sumter County taxpayers that the sky is falling.  Plain and simple, the 25 percent Sumter County tax increase is a hoax. 

A 25 percent increase in the property tax for the Sumter County portion of the tax roll does NOT result in a TOTAL OUT OF POCKET tax increase of anywhere near 25 percent for a majority of Sumter County taxpayers. 

Anyone who took the time to compare their last two years of tax bills and did the simple math to calculate the ACTUAL percent increase of the amount they paid in taxes in 2019, including all the exemptions that were applied to reduce their bill, has realized that their TOTAL property tax increase was more like 8 to 12 percent.  Rational people are concerned about what their actual out of pocket cost is, not the nonsense that is being promulgated for whoever knows the reason. 

So how do you find the specific increase of your TOTAL PROPERTY TAXES – your true OUT OF POCKET expense?  Go to the Randy Mask tax collector link: https://sumter.county-taxes.com/public  and enter your name or address.  Your property will appear, so select your property.  The next screen will reflect your 2019 tax bill (your 2019 tax bill will appear by default).

Make a note of what you paid in 2019.  You will find this number displayed at both the top and bottom of the screen next to the word PAID in red (above your receipt number).  This dollar amount is your actual payment and includes any exemptions that you used to reduce your taxes as well as any changes to your property’s appraised value.  Next, select “Year 2018” from the menu at the top of the screen and make a note of what you paid in 2018.  Now, do the simple math.  Subtract your 2018 PAID taxes from your 2019 PAID taxes and note the difference.  Then, take that difference and divide it by what you PAID in 2018 in order to get the percentage increase.

Mr. Estep should look at his own tax records before spreading hyped-up hysteria.  His bottom line – the total amount that came out of his wallet due to his tax increase between 2018 and 2019 – was $155.91 for a 9 percent increase!  How in the world can he say that his taxes between 2018 and 2019 went up 25 percent?  It’s beyond me!  Here is the math illustrating Mr. Estep’s actual tax numbers, no hype:  $1,861.80 (2019) minus $1,705.89 (2018) = $155.91 increase.  Now $155.91 divided by $1,705.89 = .091 or 9 percent.

Furthermore, if Mr. Estep were to look at his tax records going back to 2013, he will see that the actual amount he paid in taxes went down in all but one year.  In 2017, he had a $17.23 increase followed by a $6.75 decrease in 2018.  All in all, he would find that his TOTAL property taxes have only increased by $96.12 over the past seven years.  Where else in the country could he have lived for 7 years and enjoyed such a modest tax increase, let alone a place as beautiful as The Villages?

I urge you to look at the TOTAL PROPERTY TAX AMOUNT you have paid over the past two years and do the basic math.  Don’t subscribe to the hysteria.  While those without the homestead exemption will undoubtedly pay more, they represent a small number of taxpayers.  Once they qualify for the exemption, they will see a reduction in their taxes as well.  In the end, when sensible people evaluate the whole picture accurately, the truth will prevail over the frenzied “the sky is falling” conspiracy theories. 

Juan Rodriguez is a resident of the Village of Osceola Hills at Soaring Eagle.

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