Friday, July 23, 2010

Crist order may help spill-affected Fla. taxpayers

Gov. Charlie Crist signed an executive order Wednesday aimed at helping owners of homes and other properties devalued by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill to seek compensation for those losses and for the inflated tax bills expected to result.

Crist acted a day after the Florida House adjourned a special legislative session without taking a vote on his ballot proposal to ban offshore drilling in state waters.

Crist ordered property appraisers in 26 affected counties to provide at taxpayers' request unofficial interim assessments showing how much their property has been devalued by the spill.

"An interim assessment will give property owners the documentation they need to hold BP accountable," Crist said at a news conference.

Property owners can use the interim assessments to seek compensation from BP and other responsible parties for lost value, Crist said. The documents also would help in claiming rebates for the difference between actual tax bills, which are based on Jan. 1 assessments, and what they would have been using lower post-spill values.

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