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April 18, 2014

Tax abatement goes on Nov. ballot for Suwannee voters

Live Oak —

The Suwannee County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously recently to authorize the ad valorem (economic development) tax abatement referendum to be placed on the general election ballot in November. If passed by the electorate, the commissioners will be able to offer tax abatement to companies seeking to locate in Suwannee County as an incentive to locate here. 

The tax abatement has to be renewed every 10 years by the election of the people. The  language that appeared on the 2004 ballot read, “Shall the Board of County Commissioners of Suwannee County be authorized to grant, pursuant to Section 3, Article VII of the State Constitution, property tax exemptions to new businesses and expansions of existing businesses?” This measure was voted on and passed by the citizens. 

If approved, the commissioners will be given the authority to grant tax abatements on a case-by-case basis. The following information was collected from county documents. 

What is tax abatement?

The purpose of the tax abatement is to stimulate economic development by serving as an incentive to attract new businesses.

The law provides a means by which local governments, which have secured approval by voter referendum, may grant property tax exemptions up to 100 percent basis, up to 10 years to new and expanding businesses. Abatement is given by the commissioners to taxes on real property for a specified number of years. 

Businesses who receive the tax abatement are still responsible for paying school, land, Suwannee River Water Management District taxes and others that may apply. 

What are the benefits of tax abatement to employers?

The ultimate benefit is the reduction in cost for start-up and expansion of businesses. 

How does it benefit the residents?

By the county having the ability to offer tax abatements to potential or existing businesses wishing to expand, the county can use the abatement as a tool to attract companies, which could create jobs.  

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