HERE IS HOW TO GET YOUR PROPOSED PROPERTY TAX INCREASE REDUCED, OR
EVEN WIPED OUT
The majority of the information in this section has been compiled
over the last several years and the bottom line remains the
same: Get motivated and challenge the taxing authority before the
is not going to cut it, so get to work.
must read this paragraph before going any
Since you're reading this information on-line right now,
it means that you've got the
same resources at your disposal that I have. Which
means that if you can't find something in this section, you need to
spend the time to research and locate whatever it is you're looking
for. Its all right here on this web site, free of charge.
If you can't find the website for
your county's tax assessor, if you can't find a phone number or an
address, click HERE. AGAIN, IT'S ALL
RIGHT HERE ON THIS WEBSITE, AND COMPLETELY FREE OF CHARGE.
Do e-mail me with questions because you probably need help and don't have the
time to look for what you need:
If you have a truly unique question or situation, then bring it
on. Get to the point and do it in 50
words or less...if possible. Fair enough?
Let's get your property taxes knocked down a few bucks....
Truth in Millage (TRIM) Notice is an important notice. It tells you
last year's market value, this years market value as of January 1,
and this year's assessed value. The market value column is the
county property appraiser
office's opinion of what a willing buyer would have paid a willing
seller for your property as of last January 1.
By the 1992 "Save
Our Homes" Amendment to the Florida Constitution, the
annual increase in assessed value of your Homesteaded property can
be no greater than 3% (or the certified Florida Consumer Price Index -- the
inflation rate -- whichever is less) -- regardless of how much your
property increased in actual market value.
give you an example: if your Homesteaded property was assessed at
$50,000 last year, and its actual market value increased this year
to $75,000, your maximum assessment for tax purposes this year would
be only $51,500.
only way your assessment can increase more than this is if there was
a change in ownership, or improvements to your property were not
reflected in last year's assessment.
the market value of your property declined since last year, this
year's market value will reflect that decline in the market.
However, your assessed value will continue to increase by 3% or the
Consumer Price Index, whichever is less, as long as assessed value
is less than market value.
the property shown on the TRIM Notice is not your
, then the columns for "Market
Value" and "Assessed Value" will be the same. If the
property has a classified use value, such as for agriculture, the
assessed value column is its classified use value. Even if the
market value shown is higher than your estimate of your property's
market value as of January 1, your tax bill for
property will still be based on the
consumer price index increase over last year's assessed value. If
you do not do anything, your November tax bill will be based on the
figure shown in the assessed value box.
the exemptions to which your property is entitled are shown in the
boxes marked "Exemptions" and "Senior
Exemption." If you bought property during the last calendar
year, and your seller qualified for exemptions, the exemptions shown
are those for which your seller qualified. These exemptions will be
removed for next year unless you personally apply for your own
exemptions. If you applied for exemptions and none are shown in the
"Exemptions" boxes, you should contact the Property
Appraiser's office at once and find out whether there is a problem
with your exemptions.
properties pay taxes county wide to your local County Commission and
School Board. Other taxing jurisdictions that are less than county
wide are the Cities and Towns, Hospital, Water and Special Tax
Districts. All of these taxing bodies must hold public hearings
before setting their rates. The dates, times and places of these
hearings are shown in the fourth column of your TRIM notice, along
with telephone numbers you can call for further information about
the taxing bodies' proposed rates. In addition, some non-ad valorem
levies are shown on your tax bill but not on your TRIM notice. These
are called non-ad valorem levies and/or Special Assessments since the amount of the levy does
not depend on the value of your property.
PROPERTY APPRAISER'S OFFICE IS RESPONSIBLE ONLY FOR THE MARKET
VALUE OF YOUR PROPERTY. By the Florida Constitution and
Statutes, this is the amount a willing buyer who did not have to buy
your property would pay to a willing seller who did not have to sell
as of last January 1.
Feedback from clients and viewers indicates that the appraisal
districts for most counties are being bombarded by protest letters
and Value Adjustment Board appeals regarding the valuation process
and amount. Indications point to representatives of counties making
adjustments over the phone WITHOUT THE
TAXPAYER EVER HAVING TO ACTUALLY GO TO THEIR HEARING!
This is a potentially
stunning victory for consumers/taxpayers if this trend holds true.
File your protest letters and appeals at once to make your particular
deadline! And, do not "think" or "assume" you
have a deal with your appraisal district unless and until they send
you a verification of this new appraisal/taxation amount. Get it in
writing; if you do not receive it by your date before the review
board, you'd better make your appointment or lose your chance to
couple of years ago I had my "day in court" so to speak,
In front of the Appraisal Review Board and I did okay:
a. I got them to decrease their
proposed property value increase from $5,200 to only $900!
This amounts to a 90% cut in their proposed increase.
This amounts to cutting my tax increase to only 1/10th of what they
consumers don't take control of any situation, they're handing it
over to someone else that might not have their best interests at
heart. And the longer you wait to challenge these increases, the
harder it is to get values backed down in the future.
over 60% of
property owners are successful in gaining some relief when they
protest/challenge these increases!
Our property taxes escalated right through the ceiling this year.
We're all probably on a fixed income and have no idea how we are
going to pay them. Do we have a right to protest them?
A: Not only do you have a right to protest your property tax
bill, if you do you'll join tens of thousands of people across the
country who are doing the same thing. Your first step is to review
your tax bill in two areas:
The assessed value of your land and,
The value of the improvements.
these are in error (such as the size of the lot), which can cause
the corresponding tax to be wrong as well. Challenge any and all
If you've made any capital improvements to the property in the
past year, this could account for the rise in assessed value. Most
assessors only review properties every few years; so it's possible
that the remodeling or renovating you did previously is just now
being taxed. This is one reason why, when a buyer purchases a home,
property taxes usually rise in the next year or two since the
assessor now has a sale that can often be used to justify a higher
assessed value (known as "comps.")
Locate information about how your assessed value and
corresponding tax can be protested:
Either the information will be spelled out in detail on your
assessment notice or you will be advised to contact the assessor's
office for further information.
counties have a
detailed procedure you must follow in order for your protest to be
filed and heard. This includes a time deadline for filing the
protest...and they will stick to the letter of the law. You've got
your "window of opportunity" and if you don't react in
Make sure you're well armed with information to back up your
protest: Do your homework! Visit the appropriate county offices
to research properties like yours; learn both what they sold for and
what their assessments are now. Take notes on comparable homes with
assessments lower than yours. Information is power when it comes to
fighting city hall.
Remember, everyone in the country is affected by property tax: Owners
of all types of real property (residential, commercial, industrial,
and agricultural) are directly affected because they receive tax
bills annually. People who lease real property are also affected
because part of their monthly rent is calculated on the amount of
property tax the landlord must pay.
The big problem is, how do you
know for sure that you're not paying more than your fair share?
Here's a common example: Suppose you went to the local
supermarket and bought $75.00 worth of groceries. At the check-out
line you gave the cashier a hundred dollar bill and the cashier gave
you back some money. Would you count your change to be certain that
you got back the right amount? Of course you would, because that is
the prudent and intelligent thing to do. Then why shouldn't you do
the same thing on a costly household expense like your annual
property tax? Why should you assume that the government is correct
and has treated you fairly?
STEPS TO LOWERING YOUR PROPERTY TAXES
YOUR PROTEST LETTER AND VAB APPEAL FILED A.S.A.P!
If you snooze, you will lose. Follow the simple format (sample
attached) and get it in to your local taxing authority within the
time limit outlined on your letter. You have only 25 days from the
date they mailed it, so get after it! Send it certified return
receipt for proof of service. Then, file a DR-486 appeal form to the
Value Adjustment Board.
DEFINE COMPARABLE WORTH: It's simple to get started...Go to
the assessor's office and examine your property record card for
errors. The card will contain a description of the house and
grounds, along with the assessed value and the math by which it was
Errors are notoriously common. You're down for four bedrooms
when you have three. Your lot is 70 by 180, not 170 by 180. Your
attic is not finished. The pool was filled in years ago. the 'extra'
room in the garage was removed. The big
plus of fixing a record error is that the resulting tax reduction
lasts forever. And it's easy. Just tell the assessor, who will
usually fix it on your word without a formal hearing. You're out the
CONSIDER HIRING AN EXPERT TO ASSIST: Assuming the records are
correct, you may well choose to hire an expert if you're convinced
your house would not sell for anywhere near the value placed on it
by the assessor. To challenge an assessment, you must demonstrate
that comparable homes in your neighborhood are selling for less than
your appraised value. Get a quick sense of this by talking to your
local real estate agent. For free or for a small fee, most are happy
to comb their listings to see what homes like yours are selling for
and tell you what yours might bring. You want to get data on three
comparable homes that have recently sold and three that are now on
the market. Or you might use the services of a real estate
appraiser. Many will do a partial appraisal for clients considering
an appeal for a third or less of a full report...as little as $75.
Contact us for assistance and we may be able to help.
If it turns out that the market value of your home is within
several thousand dollars of the assessment, stop here: Your next
step, in most states, is to appear before a tax panel or Value
Adjustment Board, and experts
say boards dislike dickering over small differences. Some
jurisdictions won't hear your appeal unless your over-assessment
If you are substantially
over-assessed, you might want to go ahead with the formal appeal.
You have two choices:
Do it yourself or hire an expert. Going it alone became popular in
the late 1980s, in the wake of the real estate turndown. Self-help
books abound, but that route is time-consuming, and it's easy to
lose if you don't understand the process. Your worst mistake
is to go in with a chip on your shoulder! Contact us for
representation. We are experts.
The art of winning an appeal depends on those houses you're
comparing with yours: Remember that the houses are similar, but
they're not exactly alike, so the expert's job is to adjust for the
differences, adding for this and subtracting for that, to reach the
true market value of your house.
House A has two fireplaces to your one, but your house is newer by
B is 25 square feet smaller, but it's on a larger lot.
C has a finished attic but also a soggy basement. Each asset or
defect has a numerical value attached to it. This is where it
gets complicated and is what the appraiser knows how to do and the
and consultants have another advantage: extensive databases of area
home sales, including details on interior conditions and
improvements. The county doesn't have all those records.
Appraisers who are licensed have a special standing before boards as
sort of expert witnesses. If they present an appraisal, boards
usually side with their findings. A full appraisal can run to $300
or more, so whether it's worth it depends on how much it saves you
and by how often the jurisdiction re-assesses.
Get A Referral: Another approach is to hire a property tax
consultant. They charge on a contingency basis, so if they appeal
your assessment and lose, you'll wind up paying nothing. In theory,
at least, property tax consultants won't take on cases unless
they're convinced they can win them. But as advocates, they don't
have the credibility of appraisers before value adjustment boards. In many areas,
anyone can hang out a consultant's shingle. They can bungle your
case and waste your time. And
never deal with any of these so-called "tax reduction
consultants" that want any up-front fees.
Legitimate consultants make their real money in commercial and
industrial appeals and are generally reluctant to take on
residential clients. Be aware that a reasonable fee is one-third of
the tax savings for the first year, but some may try to charge as
much as 50% for each year the reduction remains in effect.
Appraisers and property tax consultants are listed separately in the
Yellow Pages, but the best way to locate one is probably through a
referral from a real estate agent or a lawyer. Fighting the country
tax assessor/collector was never designed to be easy, but with the
right professional and knowledge, it can be a lot less 'taxing'.
IF YOU'VE RECENTLY BOUGHT A HOUSE: When buying a house,
remember that the property taxes listed on the real estate
fact-sheet or property record could be incorrect as it is sometimes obtained from the
vendor's memory or old records. To get an accurate amount, you can
check the property taxes at City Hall. Just ask to see the
Assessment Role. This is also a good time to check that the taxes
accurately reflect the house.
It's entirely possible that a past owner removed an amenity but
didn't notify the assessment office. As a result, the house
could be over-assessed.
Obvious causes for reassessment are the removal of a feature that
added value to the property. Perhaps a swimming pool has been filled
in, or a utility building has been torn down. These changes should
be reflected in the assessed value of your home and thus should
result in lower taxes.
OTHER TAX REDUCTION STRATEGIES: Another strategy that can
improve your chances of a tax reduction is to find something recent
that is a legitimate cause for reduced property values. It should be
recent, otherwise, your appeal could be refused on the grounds that
the cause of lower value is already reflected in the taxes.
possible changes could be re-zoning or redevelopment that raises
noise and traffic levels in your neighborhood. In such situations,
you can get your neighbors to join you in an appeal. The group
effort will carry more weight than an individual "cry in the
a reduction with clear reductions in value such as the removal of an
a reduction with recent changes in your neighborhood that downgrade
your neighbors to join you in a group appeal.
TAXING THOUGHTS: "I've
heard that the Assessor might have errors on my home's property
data. How can the Assessor make mistakes?"
Gee. Let's see. They're overworked, over paid, and under staffed!
PLUS, they are government workers and only want that paycheck and
pension in the end. In other words, they just don't give a damn
about your problems! In fact, they may even create problems 'because
they can'. Remember, the Property Appraiser is the revenue source
for the county commission. You might have
some very good people in your county assessor's office, but they
do have a bunch of work to do. They simply don't have the time to give
each and every parcel the consideration it deserves, and errors
do indeed occur. The "computer generated" assessments can introduce
even further distortion into the results.
appraisal district determines the value of all taxable property in
the county. Before the appraisal can begin, the appraisal district
compiles a list of the taxable property. The listing for each
property contains a description of the property and the name and
address of the owner.
State law requires chief appraisers who appraise the same properties
for different taxing units to exchange information on the
properties' ownership, description and other data. To the extent
possible, the appraisers work together to appraise each property at
the same value in each appraisal district. When filing information,
property owners with property in more than one appraisal district
must file with each appraisal district office. The chief appraisers
will mail these owners a notice each year advising them of this
is your property valued? The
appraisal district must repeat the appraisal process for property in
the county at least once every three years.
save time and money, the appraisal district uses mass appraisal to
appraise large numbers of properties. In a mass appraisal, the
appraisal district first collects detailed descriptions of each
taxable property in the district. It then classifies properties
according to a variety of factors, such as size, use and
data from recent property sales, the district appraises the value of
typical properties in each class. Taking into account differences
such as age or location, the district uses the typical property
values to appraise all the properties in the class.
For individual properties, the appraisal district may use three
common methods to value property: market, income and cost approach.
The market approach is most often used and simply asks, "What
are properties similar to this property selling for?"
value of your home is an estimate of the price your home would sell
for on January 1. The appraisal district compares your home to
similar homes that have sold recently and determines your home's
The district uses the other methods to appraise types of properties
that don't often sell, such as utility companies and oil leases. The
income approach asks, "What would an investor pay in
anticipation of future income from the property?" The cost
approach asks, "How much would it cost to replace the property
with one of equal utility?"
if your property value rises? A
notice of appraised value tells you if the appraisal district
intends to increase the value of your property. Chief appraisers
send two kinds of notices of appraised value. A detailed notice
contains a description of your property, its value, the exemptions
and an estimate of taxes that might be owed. This notice is sent
under three circumstances:
If the value of your property is higher than it was in the previous
year (the appraisal district' s board of directors can decide that
the district will send detailed notices only if a property' s value
increased by more than $1,000);
If the value of your property is higher than the value you gave on a
rendition (see next section); or
If your property wasn't on the appraisal district's records in the
chief appraiser will send a short notice without the estimate of
taxes if your property was reappraised or changed hands or upon the
request of you or your agent.
The chief appraiser must send you the notice of appraised value by
May 15 or as soon thereafter as possible. If you disagree with the
value, you have until May 31 or 30 days from the date the notice is
delivered (whichever is later) to a file a protest with the
appraisal review board.
The notice of appraised value explains how you can file a protest
with the review board if you disagree with the district's actions.
there "loopholes" or exemptions?
There sure are.. and most home owners know little about them. The most
common exemptions are Senior Citizens and handicap exemptions. This
is one of your first check-offs in your preparation. These
exemptions are worth lots of cash to you. For our more deserving
veterans and senior citizens, such exemptions are very helpful in
reducing your overall property tax assessment.
A Sample Protest Letter
PROPERTY TAX INCREASE PROTEST NOTIFICATION!!!
JOHN & JANE
Your County Property Appraiser
VIA CERTIFIED MAIL
RETURN RECEIPT NO# __________________
REF: Account or Parcel ID-Folio number - 00000 123456
Whom It May Concern:
Please let this letter serve as my official, written Notice
of Protest and appeal (appeal form DR-486 attached) for the property referenced above,
through my address as well as the account number.
as checked in the form I'm also returning herewith, is that
you have over-valued the property. Please let me know how
and when I can review this matter for re-valuation with the
proper authorities prior to an appeal hearing. Thank you for your prompt attention to
RIGHTS, REMEDIES & RESPONSIBILITIES
TO APPEAL: The
right to protest to the appraisal review board is the most important
right you have as a taxpayer. You may protest if you disagree with
any of the actions the appraisal district has taken on your
property. You may discuss your concerns about your property value,
exemptions and special appraisal in an informal session with an
impartial panel of your fellow citizens.
Most appraisal districts informally review your protest with you to
try to solve problems. Check with your district for details.
If you lease property and must pay the owner's property taxes
(required by lease contract), then you may appeal the property's
value to the Value Adjustment Board or VAB. You may appeal the
property's proposed value only if the property owner does not
appeal. This appeal right includes leasing land, buildings or
personal property. The appraisal district will send the notice of
appraised value to the property owner, who is required to send a
copy to you. If you appeal, the VAB will send any notices to you.
What is an appraisal review
An VAB or Value Adjustment Board is a group of elected officials,
professional citizens and money
hungry lawyers that work for the property appraiser or value
adjustment board authorized to
resolve disputes between taxpayers and the appraisal district. VAB
members are appointed by the appraisal district' s board of
directors. An individual must be a resident of the appraisal
district to serve on the VAB. Officers and
employees of the appraisal district, the local taxing units or the
State Comptroller's office can't serve on the VAB. VAB members also
must comply with special conflict of interest and Sunshine laws. The VAB
determines taxpayer protests and taxing unit challenges. In taxpayer
protests, it listens to both the taxpayer and the chief appraiser.
The VAB determines if the chief appraiser has granted or denied
exemptions and agricultural appraisals properly. The VAB decisions
are binding only for the year in question. The VAB begins work
around May 15 and finishes when all appeals are heard.
VAB meetings are open to the public. Notices of the date, time and
place of each meeting must be posted in advance at
the appraisal district office and at the VAB clerk or county clerk's office.
The VAB hearing procedures must be posted in a prominent place in
the room in which hearings are held.
Should you protest?
The VAB must base its decisions on evidence. It hears testimony and evidence from
both sides - the taxpayer and the chief appraiser.
following is a list
of protest issues that an VAB can consider and suggestions on
evidence you may want to gather:
Is the proposed value of your property too high? Ask one of the
district's appraisers to explain the appraisal. Be sure the property
description is correct.
Are the measurements for your home or
business and lot correct? Gather blueprints, deed records,
photographs, a survey or your own measurements.
Are there any hidden defects, such as a cracked foundation or
inadequate plumbing? Get photographs, statements from builders or
Ask the appraisal district for the appraisal records on similar
properties in your area.
Is there a big difference in the values?
This comparison may show that your property wasn't treated equally.
Collect evidence on recent sales of properties similar to yours from
neighbors or real estate professionals.
Ask the appraisal district
for the sales that it used. Consider using an independent appraisal
by a real estate appraiser. Insurance records also may be helpful.
If you do decide to use sales information to support your
protest, you should:
documents or sworn statements from the person providing the sales
information in addition to their qualifications and professional
Use sales of properties that are similar to yours in size, age,
location and type of construction.
Justify a reduction with recent changes in your neighborhood that
downgrade property values.
Use recent sales. Sales that occurred closest to January 1 are best.
Weigh the costs of preparing a protest against the potential tax
savings. Preparing a protest may not be worth the time and expense
if it results in only a small tax savings.
If you protest the agricultural value of your farm or ranch, find
out how the appraisal district calculated your value. Compare its
information with that of local experts on agriculture, such as the
county extension agent, the Agricultural Stabilization and
Conservation Service, the Soil Conservation Service, the Crop and
Livestock Reporting Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture or
the agriculture department of a nearby university.
your property valued unequally compared with other property in the
appraisal district? See
if the value of your property is closer to market value than other
similar properties. For example, your property may be appraised at
100 percent of market value, while your neighbors' properties may be
appraised at 90 percent of market value. A protest based on the
level of appraisal may require more evidence.
Did the chief appraiser deny you an exemption? First, find
out if and why the chief appraiser denied your exemption that you
applied for. If the chief
appraiser denied your homestead exemption or any other entitlement, get evidence that you
owned your home on January 1 and used the home as your principal
residence on that date. Our process does just that! Contact us today and we will help. We also handle
Do the appraisal records show an incorrect owner? Provide
records of deeds or deed transfers to show ownership. If you
acquired the property after January 1, you may protest the
property's value until the VAB approves the records. The law
recognizes the new owner's interest in the taxes on the property.
Is your property being taxed by the wrong taxing units? An
error of this sort is often simply a clerical error. For example,
the appraisal records show your property is located in one school
district when it actually is located in another school district.
Is your property incorrectly included on the appraisal
records? Some kinds of taxable personal property move from
place to place quite regularly. Property is taxed at only one
Florida. You can
protest the inclusion of your property on the appraisal records if
it should be taxed at another location in
Did the chief appraiser or VAB fail to send you a notice that the
law requires them to send? You have the right to protest
if the chief appraiser or VAB failed to give you a required notice.
But unless you disagree with your appraisal, there is no point in
protesting failure to give a notice. Be sure that the appraisal
district has your correct name and address. You can't protest
failure to give notice if the taxes on your property become
By the way:
A notice is presumed delivered if sent by first-class mail with a
correct name and address. Your failure to receive a properly mailed
notice does not give you the right to a late hearing. (Nice try.)
But, if the notice was not sent to your home address, you have a
chance to fight it.
Is there any other action the appraisal district or VAB took that
affects you? You have the right to protest any appraisal
district action that affects you and your property. For instance,
the chief appraiser may claim your property wasn't taxed in a
previous year, and you disagree. You may protest only actions that
affect your property.
TO FILE A PROTEST
FIRST: Contact Florida Homestead
Services at 954.252.9111 or at
for free advice. We handle VAB Appeals and have the expertise to win
a written protest: The
appraisal district has protest forms available, but you need not use
an official form (use my sample letter). A notice of protest is
sufficient if it identifies the owner, the property that is the
subject of the protest and indicates that you are dissatisfied with
a decision made by the appraisal district.
your notice of protest by May 31 or no later than 30 days after the
appraisal district delivers a notice of appraised value to you,
whichever date is later: If
the VAB ordered a change in your property's records, you must file
your notice of protest within 30 days of the date on which the VAB
delivered you a notice of the change.
If you file a notice of protest before the VAB approves the
appraisal records, you are entitled to a hearing if the VAB decides
that you had good reason for failing to meet the deadline. If you
don't file a notice of protest before the VAB approves the appraisal
records, you lose your right to protest. You also lose the right to
file a lawsuit about the taxable value of your property. However, if
your protest is late because the chief appraiser or VAB failed to
mail your notice of appraised value or denial of exemption or
agricultural appraisal, you may file your protest any time before
the taxes on your property become delinquent. You must pay your
taxes before the delinquency date to be entitled to this type of
In some cases, you may file with the VAB to correct an error even
after these deadlines. Contact your appraisal district or the
Comptroller's office if you have questions about clerical errors,
substantial value errors, double taxing or other areas.
SHOULD YOU PROTEST? The
VAB will notify you at least 15 days in advance of the date, time
and place of your hearing. Try to discuss your protest issue with
the appraisal office in advance. You may work out a satisfactory
solution without appearing before the VAB.
At least 14 days before your protest hearing, the appraisal
district will send you:
A copy of a pamphlet describing your rights;
A copy of
the VAB procedures; and
a statement that you have the
right to inspect and obtain a copy of the data, schedules, formulas
and any other information that the chief appraiser plans to
introduce at your hearing.
appraisal district may charge for copies of materials you
When you present your protest to the VAB, you may appear in person,
send someone to present the protest for you or send a sworn
affidavit containing the evidence to support your protest.
on time and prepared for your hearing: The
VAB may adopt a policy to place a time limit on hearings.
to the facts of your presentation: The
VAB has no control over the appraisal district's operations or
budget, tax rates for the local taxing units, inflation or local
politics. Including these topics in your presentation isn't helpful
a simple and well organized protest: Stress
key facts and figures. Write them down in logical order and give
copies to each VAB member.
that the VAB
as an independent judge: The
VAB listens to both the taxpayer and the chief appraiser before
making a decision. It is not a case of the taxpayer against the VAB
and the chief appraiser. BUT...The taxpayer is not a priority
the VAB will always favor the county, and will ask you to take an
oath (either by swearing or by affirming) before you present
evidence. Should you refuse to take the oath, the VAB will note this
fact and may take it into account as the VAB weighs the evidence.
The VAB may decide to end the hearing. Appraisal district staff must
take an oath.
also are required to make a partial payment of taxes-usually the
amount of taxes that aren't in dispute-before the delinquency date: You
may ask the court to excuse you from prepaying your taxes. You must
file an oath of "inability to pay" the taxes in question
and argue that prepaying the taxes restrains your right to go to
court on your protest. The court will hold a hearing and decide the
terms or conditions of your payment.
ON HOME TAXES: An
exemption removes part of the value of your property from taxation
and lowers your taxes. For example, if your home is valued at
$50,000 and you qualify for a $25,000 exemption, you pay taxes on
your home as if it was appraised at only $25,000. Other than
exemptions for disabled veterans or survivors, these exemptions
apply only for your homestead. They do not apply to other property
How to File for an Exemption
Get an application form at your local
appraisal district office: Fill
out only one application. There is a separate application for the
disabled veteran's exemption.
the form to the appraisal district office after January 1, but no
later than March 1: Making
false statements on your exemption application is a criminal
necessary information: For
example, if your home is a mobile home, you must have a copy of the
title to the home or a verified copy of the purchase contract.
your property is valued by more than one appraisal district, you
must file an application with each appraisal district office: This
occurs when your property is located in a taxing unit that is also
in a neighboring county. Contact the appraisal district in your
county if you aren't sure.
may file a homestead exemption up to one year after:
a. The date
you paid the taxes on the home or.
date the taxes became delinquent, whichever date is earlier.
You will receive a new tax bill with a lower amount or a refund if
you already paid. Late filing does not apply to the disabled
the chief appraiser asks you for more information: You
will have at least 30 days to reply.
the chief appraiser denies or modifies your exemption: He
or she must tell you in writing within five days. This notice
explain how you can protest before the appraisal review board.
you receive a homestead exemption or a disabled veteran's exemption:
don't have to apply again unless the chief appraiser asks you to
apply or unless your qualifications change. If you move to a new
home, you will have to file out a new application. If you have your
65th birthday or become disabled on or before January 1st, you
should file a new application so that you can receive additional
chief appraiser may require a new application: By
sending you a written notice and an application form. if you don't
return the new application, you can lose your exemption.
your home qualify for exemptions?
You must own your home on January 1.
Your homestead can be a separate structure, condominium or a mobile
home located on leased land, as long as you own it.
Your homestead can include up to 1/2 acre in a municipality or 20 acres in a rural area if the land is used as
A residence may be owned by an individual through an interest in a
qualifying beneficial trust and may be occupied by a trustee of a
You must use the home as your principal residence on January 1. This means 'where you hang your hat'
to no other home or dwelling.
If you have more than one house, you can only get exemptions for
your main or principal sole residence.
If you temporarily move away from your home, you can still get an
exemption if you don't establish another principal residence and you
intend to return. For instance, if you enter a nursing home, your
home still qualifies as your homestead if you intend to return to
Renting part of your home or using part of it for a business doesn't
disqualify the rest of your home for the exemption.
has two distinct
laws for designating a homestead. The Tax Code offers homeowners a
way to apply for homestead exemptions to reduce local property
taxes. The Exemption Code allows homeowners to designate their
homesteads to protect them from a forced sale to satisfy creditors.
This law doesn't protect homeowners from tax foreclosure sales of
their homes for delinquent taxes.
Contact us for a
OBSERVATIONS ON APPLICABLE CASE
Opportunity of homeowner to be heard in quasi-judicial proceeding
before the Board of Tax Adjustment before denial of his homestead
tax exemption met requirements of due process. Horne v. Markham, 288
So.2d 196 (1973). Constitutional Law 284(2)
Time of filing
Evidence that April 1st deadline for applications for homestead
exemption was necessary to comply with tax assessor's duty to
complete tax roll by July 1st sustained finding that April 1st
deadline was not arbitrary or unreasonable. Horne v. Markham, 288
So.2d 196 (1973). Taxation 2369(2)
A value adjustment board is not authorized to consider an
application for a homestead exemption unless a timely application
has first been filed with the property appraiser. Op.Atty.Gen.,
2001-83, December 13, 2001.
The nature and extent of any investigation by the property appraiser
concerning the validity of execution and filing of a homestead
exemption application or short form renewal card by an agent
operating under specific power of attorney are matters that must be
administratively determined by the property appraiser pursuant to
his express statutory duties to examine and investigate such
homestead exemption application form to determine if it complies
with Florida Law. Op.Atty.Gen., 082-99, Dec. 1, 1982.
Since no homestead application could be denied except by final
action of the Board of Tax Adjustment, decision of tax assessor
disapproving late application was a tentative administrative
decision which did not require prior notice or hearing. Horne v.
Markham, 288 So.2d 196 (1973). Taxation 2369(2)
County tax equalization boards, existing under and pursuant to
former § 193.25 (see, now, § 194.011), could review the action of
the tax assessors in denying applications for tax exemption, and
grant the same in whole or in part. 1960 Op.Atty.Gen., 060-164, Oct.
Finality of appeal
Where a homestead exemption application was filed and denied by
county tax assessor, and equalization board acted on appeal or no
appeal was taken, assessment became final and could not be
reconsidered or reviewed by board of equalization after adjournment
sine die. 1953-54 Op.Atty.Gen. 220.
Where antecedent to this section authorized board of county
commissioners to equalize and correct tax assessments, and declared
its action to be final, such action would only be final to the
extent that party aggrieved had not resorted to the court within the
prescribed period. 1943 Op.Atty.Gen. 198.
Where an application for homestead tax exemption was found to be
false and the claimant not entitled thereto, after the same had been
allowed, the exemption could be withdrawn and denied by the taxing
officials, but the taxpayer should have had an opportunity to be
heard upon the question of his claim before the tax assessor and the
board of county commissioners in full compliance with antecedent to
this section. 1961 Op.Atty.Gen., 061-1, Jan. 1, 1961.
Where an application for homestead tax exemption was duly filed with
the county tax assessor, as required by former § 192.12 et seq.
(see, now, § 196.031 et seq.), and approved by such tax assessor,
the municipal tax assessor was not bound to follow the action of the
county tax assessor in granting the exemption. 1951 Op.Atty.Gen.
Failure to appear
Where tax assessor rejected application for homestead exemption,
board of county commissioners was required to act on the
disapproval, though applicant failed to appear and made no objection
before the board of equalization. 1948 Op.Atty.Gen. 194.
Taxpayer Bill of Rights
There is created a Florida Taxpayer's Bill of Rights for property
taxes and assessments to guarantee that the rights, privacy, and
property of the taxpayers of this state are adequately safeguarded
and protected during tax levy, assessment, collection, and
enforcement processes administered under the revenue laws of this
state. The Taxpayer's Bill of Rights compiles, in one document,
brief but comprehensive statements that summarize the rights and
obligations of the property appraisers, tax collectors, clerks of
the court, local governing boards, the Department of Revenue, and
taxpayers. Additional rights afforded to payors of taxes and
assessments imposed under the revenue laws of this state are
provided in s. 213.015. The rights afforded taxpayers to assure that
their privacy and property are safeguarded and protected during tax
levy, assessment, and collection are available only insofar as they
are implemented in other parts of the Florida Statutes or rules of
the Department of Revenue. The rights so guaranteed to state
taxpayers in the Florida Statutes and the departmental rules
(1) The right to know.--
(a) The right to be mailed notice of proposed property taxes and
proposed or adopted non-ad valorem assessments (see ss. 194.011(1),
200.065(2)(b) and (d) and (13)(a), and 200.069). The notice must
also inform the taxpayer that the final tax bill may contain
additional non-ad valorem assessments (see s. 200.069(10) ).
(b) The right to notification of a public hearing on each taxing
authority's tentative budget and proposed millage rate and
advertisement of a public hearing to finalize the budget and adopt a
millage rate (see s. 200.065(2)(c) and (d)).
(c) The right to advertised notice of the amount by which the
tentatively adopted millage rate results in taxes that exceed the
previous year's taxes (see s. 200.065(2)(d) and (3)). The right to
notification by first-class mail of a comparison of the amount of
the taxes to be levied from the proposed millage rate under the
tentative budget change, compared to the previous year's taxes, and
also compared to the taxes that would be levied if no budget change
is made (see ss. 200.065(2)(b) and 200.069(2), (3), (4), and (9)).
(d) The right that the adopted millage rate will not exceed the
tentatively adopted millage rate. If the tentative rate exceeds the
proposed rate, each taxpayer shall be mailed notice comparing his or
her taxes under the tentatively adopted millage rate to the taxes
under the previously proposed rate, before a hearing to finalize the
budget and adopt millage (see s. 200.065(2)(d)).
(e) The right to be sent notice by first-class mail of a non-ad
valorem assessment hearing at least 20 days before the hearing with
pertinent information, including the total amount to be levied
against each parcel. All affected property owners have the right to
appear at the hearing and to file written objections with the local
governing board (see s. 197.3632(4)(b) and (c) and (10)(b)2.b.).
(f) The right of an exemption recipient to be sent a renewal
application for that exemption, the right to a receipt for homestead
exemption claim when filed, and the right to notice of denial of the
exemption (see ss. 196.011(6), 196.131(1), 196.151, and
196.193(1)(c) and (5)).
(g) The right, on property determined not to have been entitled to
homestead exemption in a prior year, to notice of intent from the
property appraiser to record notice of tax lien and the right to pay
tax, penalty, and interest before a tax lien is recorded for any
prior year (see s. 196.161(1)(b)).
(h) The right to be informed during the tax collection process,
including: notice of tax due; notice of back taxes; notice of late
taxes and assessments and consequences of nonpayment; opportunity to
pay estimated taxes and non-ad valorem assessments when the tax roll
will not be certified in time; notice when interest begins to accrue
on delinquent provisional taxes; notice of the right to prepay
estimated taxes by installment; a statement of the taxpayer's
estimated tax liability for use in making installment payments; and
notice of right to defer taxes and non-ad valorem assessments on
homestead property (see ss. 197.322(3), 197.3635, 197.343,
197.363(2)(c), 197.222(3) and (5), 197.2301(3), 197.3632(8)(a),
193.1145(10)(a), and 197.254(1)).
(i) The right to an advertisement in a newspaper listing names of
taxpayers who are delinquent in paying tangible personal property
taxes, with amounts due, and giving notice that interest is accruing
at 18 percent and that, unless taxes are paid, warrants will be
issued, prior to petition made with the circuit court for an order
to seize and sell property (see s. 197.402(2)).
(j) The right to be mailed notice when a petition has been filed
with the court for an order to seize and sell property and the right
to be mailed notice, and to be served notice by the sheriff, before
the date of sale, that application for tax deed has been made and
property will be sold unless back taxes are paid (see ss.
197.413(5), 197.502(4)(a), and 197.522(1)(a) and (2)).
(k) The right to have certain taxes and special assessments levied
by special districts individually stated on the "Notice of
Proposed Property Taxes and Proposed or Adopted Non-Ad Valorem
Assessments" (see s. 200.069).
(2) The right to due process.--
(a) The right to an informal conference with the property appraiser
to present facts the taxpayer considers to support changing the
assessment and to have the property appraiser present facts
supportive of the assessment upon proper request of any taxpayer who
objects to the assessment placed on his or her property (see s.
(b) The right to petition the value adjustment board over objections
to assessments, denial of exemption, denial of agricultural
classification, denial of historic classification, denial of
high-water recharge classification, disapproval of tax deferral, and
any penalties on deferred taxes imposed for incorrect information
willfully filed. Payment of estimated taxes does not preclude the
right of the taxpayer to challenge his or her assessment (see ss.
194.011(3), 196.011(6) and (9)(a), 196.151, 196.193(1)(c) and (5),
193.461(2), 193.503(7), 193.625(2), 197.253(2), 197.301(2), and
(c) The right to file a petition for exemption or agricultural
classification with the value adjustment board when an application
deadline is missed, upon demonstration of particular extenuating
circumstances for filing late (see ss. 193.461(3)(a) and 196.011(1),
(7), (8), and (9)(c)).
(d) The right to prior notice of the value adjustment board's
hearing date and the right to the hearing within 4 hours of
scheduled time (see s. 194.032(2)).
(e) The right to notice of date of certification of tax rolls and
receipt of property record card if requested (see ss. 193.122(2) and
(3) and 194.032(2)).
(f) The right, in value adjustment board proceedings, to have all
evidence presented and considered at a public hearing at the
scheduled time, to be represented by an attorney or agent, to have
witnesses sworn and cross-examined, and to examine property
appraisers or evaluators employed by the board who present testimony
(see ss. 194.034(1)(a) and (c) and (4), and 194.035(2)).
(g) The right to be mailed a timely written decision by the value
adjustment board containing findings of fact and conclusions of law
and reasons for upholding or overturning the determination of the
property appraiser, and the right to advertised notice of all board
actions, including appropriate narrative and column descriptions, in
brief and nontechnical language (see ss. 194.034(2) and 194.037(3)).
(h) The right at a public hearing on non-ad valorem assessments or
municipal special assessments to provide written objections and to
provide testimony to the local governing board (see ss.
197.3632(4)(c) and 170.08).
(i) The right to bring action in circuit court to contest a tax
assessment or appeal value adjustment board decisions to disapprove
exemption or deny tax deferral (see ss. 194.036(1)(c) and (2),
194.171, 196.151, and 197.253(2)).
(3) The right to redress.--
(a) The right to discounts for early payment on all taxes and non-ad
valorem assessments collected by the tax collector, the right to pay
installment payments with discounts, and the right to pay delinquent
personal property taxes under an installment payment program when
implemented by the county tax collector (see ss. 197.162,
197.3632(8) and (10)(b)3., 197.222(1), and 197.4155).
(b) The right, upon filing a challenge in circuit court and paying
taxes admitted in good faith to be owing, to be issued a receipt and
have suspended all procedures for the collection of taxes until the
final disposition of the action (see s. 194.171(3)).
(c) The right to have penalties reduced or waived upon a showing of
good cause when a return is not intentionally filed late, and the
right to pay interest at a reduced rate if the court finds that the
amount of tax owed by the taxpayer is greater than the amount the
taxpayer has in good faith admitted and paid (see ss. 193.072(4) and
(d) The right to a refund when overpayment of taxes has been made
under specified circumstances (see ss. 193.1145(8)(e) and
(e) The right to an extension to file a tangible personal property
tax return upon making proper and timely request (see s. 193.063).
(f) The right to redeem real property and redeem tax certificates at
any time before a tax deed is issued, and the right to have tax
certificates canceled if sold where taxes had been paid or if other
error makes it void or correctable. Property owners have the right
to be free from contact by a certificate holder for 2 years (see ss.
197.432(14) and (15), 197.442(1), 197.443, and 197.472(1) and (7)).
(g) The right of the taxpayer, property appraiser, tax collector, or
the department, as the prevailing party in a judicial or
administrative action brought or maintained without the support of
justiciable issues of fact or law, to recover all costs of the
administrative or judicial action, including reasonable attorney's
fees, and of the department and the taxpayer to settle such claims
through negotiations (see ss. 57.105 and 57.111).
(4) The right to confidentiality.--
(a) The right to have information kept confidential, including
federal tax information, ad valorem tax returns, social security
numbers, all financial records produced by the taxpayer, Form DR-219
returns for documentary stamp tax information, and sworn statements
of gross income, copies of federal income tax returns for the prior
year, wage and earnings statements (W-2 forms), and other documents
(see ss. 192.105, 193.074, 193.114(6), 195.027(3) and (6), and
(b) The right to limiting access to a taxpayer's records by a
property appraiser, the Department of Revenue, and the Auditor
General only to those instances in which it is determined that such
records are necessary to determine either the classification or the
value of taxable nonhomestead property (see s. 195.027(3)).
Added by Laws 2000, c. 2000-312, § 15. Amended by Laws 2001, c.
2001- 137, § 7, eff. July 1, 2001; Laws 2002, c. 2002-18, § 1,
eff. Jan. 1, 2003; Laws 2004, c. 2004-5, § 13, eff. June 29, 2004.
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