Florida voters were asked to decide an important tax-related issue during the primary election held back on August 30. Specifically, they were asked to vote "yes" or "no" on Amendment 4, which called for the same solar tax exemptions currently enjoyed by homeowners to be extended to business owners.
In a perhaps not altogether unsurprising result, Amendment 4 passed by an overwhelming margin -- more than 70 percent of the vote -- and is now poised to become part of the Florida Constitution.
What this effectively means is that from January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2037, renewable energy devices found on business and industrial property (rooftop solar panels, windmills, etc.) cannot be included by property appraisers when determining assessed values for property taxes purposes. In addition, these renewable energy devices are considered exempt from the state's tangible personal property tax during the same timeframe.
Amendment 4 is something of an anomaly from a political perspective in that it passed by such a wide margin despite supporters raising only $150,000 in campaign funds.
Furthermore, it was supported by an unlikely group from across the political spectrum, including pro-business groups (Florida Retail Federation, Florida Chamber of Commerce, etc.) and environmental advocates (Florida Conservation Voters, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, etc.).
Here, the former argued that Amendment 4 would help would make access to renewable power more affordable for commercial property owners and spur the development of a new statewide industry, while the latter argued that it would reduce reliance on fossil fuels and jump start much-needed conversations about climate change.
It's important to note that the passage of Amendment 4 doesn't mean it's on the books. Indeed, state lawmakers are now tasked with carrying out the will of the electorate by passing a bill during the 2017 session codifying its provisions.
It's also important to note that the Amendment 4 will introduce new important tax considerations for both business owners and developers, and, as such, they should give serious consideration to consulting with a skilled legal professional who can help them develop a comprehensive tax strategy.