Topic 18.1: Real Property Taxation

Learning Objective

After successfully completing this topic, you will be able to describe property taxation in Florida and list the steps involved in the tax appeal procedure.

Overview

Property taxes are the principal source of revenue to Florida’s cities, counties, and school boards.

Property taxes are the principal source of revenue to Florida’s cities, counties, and school boards. The U.S Constitution does not allow the federal government to tax real property, allowing that right to the states and local governments. The state of Florida does not tax property value. 

Property taxes are ad valorem taxes. Ad valorem is a Latin term that means “to the value. So, property taxes are based on the value of real property. The county property appraiser appraises real property for counties, cities and school boards. The county property appraiser must appraise real property at current just value.

Just value

“Just value is the price at which a property, if offered for sale in the open market, with a reasonable time for the seller to find a purchaser, would transfer for cash or its equivalent, under prevailing market conditions between parties who have knowledge of the uses to which the property may be put, both seeking to maximize their gains and neither being in a position to take advantage of the exigencies of the other.”

Florida Supreme Court

The Florida Supreme Court ruled that “just value” and “market value” are legally synonymous. 

General procedure

The property appraiser shall take into consideration
• the present cash value of the property, which is the amount a willing purchaser would pay a willing seller, exclusive of reasonable fees and costs of purchase, in cash or the immediate equivalent thereof in a transaction at arm’s length,
• the highest and best use to which the property can be expected to be put in the immediate future and the present use of the property,
• the location of the property,
• the quantity or size of the property,
• the cost of the property and the present replacement value of any improvements thereon,
• the condition of the property, and
• the income from the property.

Protest Procedure

A Truth in Millage (TRIM) notice is sent to property owners in August each year. The notice informs the taxpayers of the tax liability and shows which governmental entity is levying the tax. The notice will show the exemptions the owner is entitled to for the following year. The mailing of the TRIM Notice begins the 25-day appeal period. The steps in the protest procedure are

  1. Contact the property appraiser. The Property owner contacts property appraiser for an Informal Review.
  2. File a petition with the Value Adjustment Board. If the property owner is not satisfied with the outcome or would rather not discuss the matter with the Property Appraiser’s Office, he or she may file a formal petition with the county’s Value Adjustment Board (VAB). The board has five members—2 lay persons, 2 county commissioners, and 1 school board member. The petition form must be received by the VAB (not postmarked) by the 25th day following the mailing of the Notices of Proposed Property Taxes.
  3. File Suit in the courts. A small percentage of protests are successful. If a property owner lives in an established subdivision, and protests the lot valuation, it’s likely to fail. The property appraiser has set a standard lot value in the subdivision. If the appraiser adjusts the value for the protesting owner, the value of all the lots in the subdivision must be adjusted, and that is not likely.

Certiorari proceeding 

If the court suit is not successful, the property owner has one more place to protest. He or she would ask a superior court for a certiorari proceeding (an appeal).