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NOTE: 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 deadline!  Whining is not going to cut it, so get to work.

You must read this paragraph before going any further:  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?

Alrighty then!  Let's get your property taxes knocked down a few bucks....

Your "TRIM" Notice

The 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.

IMPORTANT: 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.

To 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.

The 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.

If 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.

If the property shown on the TRIM Notice is not your Homestead , 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 Homestead 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.

All 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.

All 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.

The 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 appeal for another year!


Quite a 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!

    b.    This amounts to a 90% cut in their proposed increase.

    c.    This amounts to cutting my tax increase to only 1/10th of what they had proposed!

If 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.

Besides, over 60% of property owners are successful in gaining some relief when they protest/challenge these increases!  

Q: 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:

    1.    The assessed value of your land and,

    2.    The value of the improvements.

Often 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 errors!

Worth Noting: 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.
Texas 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 time, tough.

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?


GET 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 arrived at.

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 door.

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 exceeds 10%.

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 three years.  

House B is 25 square feet smaller, but it's on a larger lot.  

House 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 homeowner doesn't.  

Appraisers 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. Negotiate!

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.  

An example?  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.

·         Some 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 wilderness".

·         Justify a reduction with clear reductions in value such as the removal of an amenity.

·         Justify a reduction with recent changes in your neighborhood that downgrade property values.

·         Get your neighbors to join you in a group appeal.

OTHER 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.

Valuing Property: The 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 process.

How is your property valued?  The appraisal district must repeat the appraisal process for property in the county at least once every three years.  

To 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 construction type.  

Using 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?"

The 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 value.

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?"  

What 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 previous year.  

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.  

Are 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.

Here's A Sample Protest Letter





Your County Property Appraiser
Anytown , FL 33000


REF: Account or Parcel ID-Folio number - 00000 123456 000000

To 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.

My reason, 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 this matter.


(your signature)

Jane Doe 




HOW 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 board?

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.

The 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 independent appraisals.

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:  

    1.    Get documents or sworn statements from the person providing the sales information in addition to their qualifications and professional expertise.

    2.    Use sales of properties that are similar to yours in size, age, location and type of construction.  

    3.    Justify a reduction with recent changes in your neighborhood that downgrade property values.  

    4.    Use recent sales. Sales that occurred closest to January 1 are best.  

    5.    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.

    6.    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.

Is 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 VAB appeals.

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 location in
Florida. You can protest the inclusion of your property on the appraisal records if it should be taxed at another location in Texas .

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 delinquent.

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. 


FIRST: Contact Florida Homestead Services at 954.252.9111 or at myhomestead@bellsouth.net for free advice. We handle VAB Appeals and have the expertise to win your appeal.

File 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.  

File 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 hearing.

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.

HOW 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. 

The appraisal district may charge for copies of materials you request. 

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.

Be on time and prepared for your hearing: The VAB may adopt a policy to place a time limit on hearings.  

Stick 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 to you.  

Present a simple and well organized protest: Stress key facts and figures. Write them down in logical order and give copies to each VAB member.   

Recognize that the VAB acts 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 and 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.  

You 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.

SAVINGS 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 you own.

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. 

Return 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 offense. 

Provide 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. 

If 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. 

You may file a homestead exemption up to one year after:

    a. The date you paid the taxes on the home or.

    b. The 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 veteran's exemption. 

If the chief appraiser asks you for more information: You will have at least 30 days to reply. 

If 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. 

Once you receive a homestead exemption or a disabled veteran's exemption: You 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 homestead exemptions. 

The 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. 

Does 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 your yard.

    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 qualifying trust.

    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 your home.

    Renting part of your home or using part of it for a business doesn't disqualify the rest of your home for the exemption.

Note: Florida 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 sample VAB Petition and Good Cause Request


Due process

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)
Appeal--In general

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. 11, 1960.

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.

False applications

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. 261.

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.

192.0105 Florida Statutes

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 include:

(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. 194.011(2)).

(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 197.2301(11)).

(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 194.192(2)).

(d) The right to a refund when overpayment of taxes has been made under specified circumstances (see ss. 193.1145(8)(e) and 197.182(1)).

(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 196.101(4)(c)).

(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)).

CREDIT(S) - 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.


Real Property Primary Residence Income - Wages Asset Protection

Homestead Exemption Filing

Protection of Real Property Protection of Income Declaration of Homestead

Value Adjustment Board Appeals Protection from Forced Sale Protection from Judgments Protection from Liens 


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