Floridians: Vote Yes on Amendment 1 on 1/29/08

2 01 2008

Floridians, our fate is in our hands. Passage of Amendment 1 will return money to homeowners right away and put nearly $10 billion back into Florida’s economy over the next five years.

This tax cut is in addition to the $15 billion property tax cut created during a June special legislative session that rolled back property taxes to 2006 levels. Here’s a recap:

Early in summer 2007, lawmakers passed landmark legislation to create the largest tax cut in Florida’s history. What passed was a two part process that put the people in control:

1. Step one was a law that required local governments to roll-back taxes in 2007, and then to grow at a responsible rate in the future.

2. Step two is in the hands of the People of Florida. On January 29, the people will have the power to cut their taxes in a historic way by passing the constitutional amendment. Floridians have the power and choice to lower their tax bill. They can decide what is best for their pocketbook on January 29, 2008.

Floridians need property tax relief

With the passage of Amendment 1, citizens will gain the freedom to purchase a new home without huge tax penalties, and rental home owners, second home owners and businesses will benefit by limited future tax increases.

The amendment contains two provisions: doubling the homestead exemption and portability of the Save Our Homes tax benefit.

Double the homestead exemption for almost all homeowners, providing an average savings of about $240 annually. The new exemption applies fully to homesteads valued over $75,000 and partially for homesteads valued over $50,000. This new exemption does not apply to school taxes.

Allow portability: Portability will allow homeowners to transfer their Save Our Homes tax benefits from their old home to a newly purchased home. Portability applies to homes purchased in 2007 and later, and the benefit is capped at $500,000.

If you upsize, you will be able to apply the dollar value of your Save Our Homes tax benefit to your new home.

For example:

Homesteader owns home valued at $300,000 and buys a new home valued at $400,000
If you downsize, you will be able to apply the percentage of the Save Our Homes benefit to your new home.

For example:

Homesteader owns home valued at $300,000 and buys a new home valued at $150,000
Provide an assessment cap of 10% for all properties, not previously capped: While homestead properties are already capped at 3%, now all other properties, including rental properties, second homes, and business properties, will be protected from huge increases in valuation. This new exemption does not apply to school taxes.
Create a new $25,000 exemption for business property, including office furniture, computers, machinery and equipment.

Estimates provided by the Legislature show that Florida homeowners and businesses will save over $12 billion in property taxes over the next five years.

Here are some fast facts about Amendment 1.

1. The property tax cut plan on the January ballot that would save taxpayers nearly $10 billion over five years.
2. Floridians have the power to cut property taxes by voting ‘Yes on 1’ on January 29, 2008.
3. Property taxes have doubled in the past six years outpacing the average growth of homeowner’s salary.
4. Local governments have used their increase in revenues to greatly expand their budgets and reserves, instead of returning it to Florida’s families and small businesses

Amendment 1 benefits those who want to move into a different home, seniors seeking to downsize, and business owners facing rising property values.

Have you been dreaming of moving into a bigger house because your family is growing? Have you lived in your home for years and are looking to buy a smaller home because the kids have grown up and moved to a new city? The scenarios below can help explain how the property tax cut from Amendment 1 will save your money.

Looking for a larger house?

If you bought a house for $95,000 in 1995 and its current market value now is $300,000 and the assessed value is only $150,000–you could transfer the full $150,000 difference to buy a more expensive home.

If the purchase of your new home costs $400,000, you would be paying about $6,300 in taxes without portability. But with the tax savings from Amendment 1 including the Save our Homes portability and the double homestead exemption, the new annual taxes would be about half or $3,600.

Want to downsize?

Under the new tax plan, portability also will apply if you want to move to a less expensive property. Instead of transferring the difference, your transfer will be your existing Save our Home percentage.

For example, if you live in a $300,000 house with an assessed value of $150,000, you pay taxes on $125,000 or about $2,100. If you wanted to move to a $200,000 condo the savings will be significant.

In this case, you would bring 50% or $100,000 in savings that reduces your assessed value to $100,000 on the new property. With the newly increased $50,000 homestead exemption from Amendment 1, the taxable value for all local government taxes other than school taxes would fall to $50,000. The new total annual tax bill would be about $1,000 or about half of the old tax bill.

Do you live in a mobile home?

More than 1.1 million Floridians currently live in mobile home or manufactured housing parks and communities. Currently, if you live on a leased lot in a park or community, you are paying tangible personal property taxes on your porches, sunrooms, storage rooms, and carports. With the passage of Amendment 1, you will have an exemption up to $25,000…so most of you will no longer pay this tax at all!

For more information, visit http://www.yeson1florida.com

Happy New Year 2008 with Feng Shui

2 01 2008

New Year’s Day celebrations date from around 4000 years ago when the ancient Babylonians (modern Iraqis) celebrated Samhain for 11 days in the early spring.

In North America the Auld Lang Syne is often sung right after the stroke of midnight. The literal translation from Scottish is “old long ago.”

The English name for the first month is from the Roman god Janus, the god of beginnings and the gatekeeper of doors and entrances.

The Rose Bowl Parade is the most watched New Year’s Day parade in North America. Initially, football was not so well received so chariot races were run at the Rose Bowl Stadium from 1903 – 1915.

Roman Emperor Julius Caesar officially established January 1st as the first day of the new year of the European calendar. The day was kept in the 16th century adoption and conversion to the Gregorian calendar, the most widely used calendar in the world.

Year 2008 marks the beginning of the Rat Lunar Chinese Calendar Year. Master Feng Shui Raymond Lo wrote about what to look for in 2008 which I would like to share:

The Year of the Rat, 2008, in the Hsia calendar, is symbolized by two elements – with earth sitting on top of water. According to the cycle of birth and destruction, which governs the inter-relationship between the elements, earth is the conqueror of water. Therefore, earth sitting on water is a symbol of control. But the water of the Rat year is very strong and the earth floating on top of water has no foundation and cannot control the ocean of water. As such, instead of conquering water, it is more like confrontation between earth and water elements. The Earth on top is Yang earth which symbolizes a mountain, and mountain gives sense of stability and firmness. But such floating earth in the ocean is weak in foundation and the stability appears to be fragile. This elemental relationship will bring a year which apparently is more stable but there are a lot of underlying tensions and confrontations.

The Chinese calendar year goes on 60-year cycle. This means that we have experienced the same year of yang earth on rat in 1948. This was a year when the confrontation between USSR and the west intensified with the Blockade of Berlin started and the formation of the Western Union by the Brussels Treaty to confront the threat of USSR; this is the predecessor to NATO. In May this year, the State of Israel was established and also the confrontation between Israel and Arabian countries began leading to the Arab-Israel war.

The Chinese character for “Yang Earth” represents a big mountain. It is associated with the quality of a firm and steady person. People born in a day of “Yang Earth” are often calm and steady and faithful, practical and “down to earth”. Some examples of famous earth people born on a “Yang Earth” day are Hillary Clinton, Denzel Washington, David Beckham, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Michael Jackson, Dick Cheney, Eric Clapton and Ben Affleck.

The Rat belongs to the strongest water element and it is the first of the 12 animal signs. So it also represents the beginning of a new 12 years cycle. As such, the Rat year can bring a new beginning of international relationships and social order; this could bring new regimes with new government in some countries. Indeed, there will be many major elections happening between 2007 and 2008 with change of leadership in many countries including USA, United Kingdom, Russia, France and Taiwan. The rat is also considered as a “Flower of Romance” so years of the rat will stimulate more romance and sex scandals. The Rat is in clash relationship against the Horse. This is a clash between water and fire elements and will often bring accidents related to both fire and water, air and the sea. The Rat is the most powerful ocean water and it will bring heavy flooding or even tsunami disaster. The most famous water disasters in history, such as the South Asia tsunami on 26/12/2004 and the sinking of the Titanic on 14/4/1912, both incidents happened on a date with prominent appearance of the Rat. Looking at past history, in 1228 a year of Earth Rat, there is big flood in Holland killing 100,000 people, and in 1588 another year of Earth Rat, the Spanish Armada encountered storm in Ireland and 5000 people died in this heavy storm. In 1888, year of Earth Rat, there is “Great Blizzard” in the east coast of the USA and 400 people died. The clash between fire and water will also bring accidents related to fire and the airline business is in the category of fire element. As such, it is observed that the year of the Rat seems to experience more air disasters. A typical year with many aviation disasters is the previous Rat year in 1996. During this year, there are over 20 major airplane crashes including the U.S. TWA Boeing 747 crashed in July, 1996 killing 230. Looking at the immediate last Earth Rat year in 1948, there were also quite a numbers of airplane crashes including the hijack of a Cathy Pacific airplane in June, 1948.

Yang earth on the rat also symbolizes unstable earth, this will also bring earth disasters such as earthquake, landslide, collapse of buildings. The Earth element is also associate with homosexuality. It so happens many famous homosexuals is born on the day of earth – this includes Leonardo Da Vinci, Michael Angelo, Tchaikovsky, George Michael, Boy George, Andy Warhol, Tracy Chapman, K.D. Lang. Rosie Odonell, etc. As such, there could be more issues in this aspect in 2008. It is not really clear how earth element is linked with homosexuality. Perhaps earth is an element of more neutral nature, compare against the other four, water and fire, wood and metal.

The clash between the Rat and Horse is a serious clash between water and fire elements. This will often bring injury and bloodshed. Therefore people born in years of Horse have to be particularly careful in 2008. As it is water clashing against fire, the danger could be associated with water and fire disasters such as traffic accidents in the air or at sea. Therefore, for people born in the year of Horse, it is recommended that they carry the pendant of an Ox which will help to attract away the Rat, so as to minimize the negative influence of the clash. Anyhow, people who are born in the year of Horse will experience a more turbulent year with more movements and traveling, changes. It is suitable to engage in such movements, such as moving house or moving offices. Traveling is also good but one should avoid going straight towards the North direction as it is the direction of the Jupiter (Grand Duke known as Tai Sui) in 2008.

The Rat also forms a penalty relationship with the Rabbit. Such penalty may cause disharmony, worries and irritations, or hidden sickness. Therefore people born in the year of the Rabbit is also recommended to carry the pendant of the Ox to minimize such penalty influence in the year of the Rat.

The Five basic elements also represent different parts of our body, earth in general relates to stomach, pancreas, muscle and cells. As such, the health problems related to earth could be stomach problem, food poisoning, and diarrhea. Disorder of earth elements can mean problems of muscle and cells, this can bring obesity, diabetes, and cancer…these are all sicknesses caused by imbalance of earth elements. Diabetes is a sickness caused by disorder of insulin which is produced by the pancreas which is also symbolized by earth element in Chinese medicine. So diabetes problem is also caused by imbalance of earth element. As such, these kinds of health problems will also come in focus in the Earth water year of 2008.

In recent years the most imminent issue threatening the survival of human race is Global warming. The polar ice caps have been melting down in an alarming speed and there are forecasts that many coastal populated cities will be submerged under the sea by the year 2050. In 2007 we have experienced dramatic change in climate and there are more weather triggered disasters. It is expected such serious impact of Global warming will intensify in 2008. The pair of elements, yang earth sitting on the rat can be interpreted as the image of floating mass of ice on a big ocean. And this is an alarming sign that the melting of Arctic and Antarctic ice will become more and more alarming in 2008. If we examine the fateful moment of one of the biggest water disaster – the Titanic, we can see the Titanic collided with a floating iceberg at mid night of 14th April, 1912. And when we translate this fateful day and time into the Chinese calendar, we can see the mid night hour on this day is actually Yang earth over the Rat, with yang earth representing the floating iceberg. And this is identical to the elements of 2008. It is anticipated there will be more flooding and water disasters associate with climate change in 2008. Such alarming signal not only shows up in the Chinese calendar, it is also reflected in feng shui.

In 2008, the feng shui flying star number 1, symbolize water element, is in the center. This center number often reflects the focus of events prevailing in the year. Take for example, in 2005 we have Flying star 4 in the center and the number 4 symbolizes the chicken. So this the year the threat of avian flu began. In 2006 the star 3 in the center represents conflict and earthquakes, 2007 the number dominate the center is 2 which is sickness and it has brought the alarm of avian flu in focus again. So we have to assume the number 1 in the center in 2008 will bring more problems with flooding and water disaster. Global warming is an issue concerning the entire human race and every one of us has the duty to take up effective measures to preserve our environment and support the move to reduce CO2 emission.

Regarding the economy, fire element is often the driving force behind the stock market. In the year 2008 there is yang earth on the Heavenly stem with water underneath. The dominating element is water. As such, it is a year of cooling down after the heated economic atmosphere in 2006 and 2007. Fire is the symbol of the financial market and strong fire will stimulate optimism and speculative mentality. Without fire investors will play cool and conservative. However, the strong water element is the symbol of money to the earth industry. With strong water showing up, the real estate market is still active and profitable. Despite the absence of fire element in the year 2008, the spring and summer months still shows strong wood and fire influences bringing upward surge in the stock and real estate market. But investors will be more cautious and practical and there will not be dramatic fluctuations such as in the magnitude of yin fire year in 2007. In general 2008 is a year of cooling down with more stability and calmness in the stock market.

The strong water of the Rat year favors earth and metal industries, as earth conquers water, so the Rat is a symbol of money to the earth industry, which includes real estate, mining, hotel, chemicals and insurance. As for metal industries, metal gives birth to water, so the strong water element in the year indicates productivity and strong activity in metal industries – this include machinery, computer, high tech industries, skincare, health business. The Wood industries, which include textile, fashion, books, publications, paper, forestry, furniture is also into a profitable year as wood conquers earth, so the earth showing up in 2008 symbolize the money of wood industry. But the profit will only be superficial as the earth element is weak.

The less prosperous industries in 2008 will be businesses of water and fire elements. Water industries refer to shipping, communication, drinks, etc. The strong water appearing in the Rat year will bring stronger competition in the water areas and this will very much weaken the profitability. Fire industries refer to finance, stock market, energy, electricity, entertainment, and airline businesses. As fire conquers metal and produces Earth element, so to Fire industry, metal represents money and earth represents productivity. In 2008 metal element is absent and earth element is weak. That is why it is a relatively weak year for the industries related to the fire element.

The real estate market is symbolized by the earth element. This industry had stronger activities in the past years of monkey and rooster in 2004 and 2005 as the metal elements represent productivity of earth industries. There had been some slowdown in 2006, as the fire and earth year brought stronger competition and eroded profitability. However, in 2008, the water element of the rat will bring some money luck to the earth industry, despite there is no strong activities in the real estate market owing to absence of metal element.

With respect to the hi-tech industries sector, as represented by the NASDAQ, I have postulated that this industry is mainly represented by the metal element. As such, the prosperity of hi-tech industry requires the strong appearance of water and wood, which are symbols of productivity and money of the metal industry. In 2008 the water element, meaning activities to hi-tech industries is very strong. As such, it is anticipated that the year is favorable for hi-tech or Internet types of business. But the absence of wood in this year could mean there are more activities without real substantial money gains.

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