Don’t Overpay for Commercial Property Tax

If you own commercial real estate in Florida then you are required to pay commercial property tax. Even so, smart commercial property owners can carefully review their commercial property valuation to ensure the amount they are paying is accurate. Overvalued property assessments are not unusual, and therefore it is essential that commercial property owners take advantage of their right to appeal overvalued property tax assessments. 

What is commercial property tax? 

Commercial property tax is an annual tax rate that is based on the value of a given commercial real estate property. In the state of Florida, counties are responsible for administering property tax. County property appraisers determine the property’s value as of January 1st of the tax year using nationally recognized assessment methods. The 2019 Florida Statutes follow eight main factors that all property appraisers must consider in serving a “just” valuation. These eight factors include considerations such as the present cash value of the property, the location of said property, the property’s condition, the net proceeds of the sale of the property and other information that impacts a property’s value.  Property tax assessments are sent in July or August to property owners in the form of a TRIM (“Truth in Millage”) notice.  TRIM notices can be appealed within a limited time frame, usually by mid-September.

Three ways to appeal a property appraiser’s assessment

If a commercial property owner disagrees with the commercial property tax that they assessed on their TRIM notice, then they have the right to make an appeal. This can be done through the following ways: discussing the assessment with the property appraiser’s office through an informal conference, filing a petition with the county value adjustment board, or filing a lawsuit in court. 

Holding an informal conference with the property appraiser is sometimes the first step in the commercial property tax appeals process. By holding an informal conference, both parties may be able to settle the issue without needing a hearing or the involvement of the court. Property owners will bring any documentation they have that supports a change in the commercial property tax assessment. Property owners can also use the conference to ask the property appraiser to present facts that support their assessment of the property in order to discuss and resolve points of disagreement.

Another common way to appeal the process is by filing a petition with the value adjustment board of the relevant county. The purpose of the value adjustment board is to hear appeals regarding appraisals, including property value assessments. Property owners or their legal representatives will file petitions with the value adjustment board clerk in the county where the property is located. After filing the petition, property owners will receive a notice detailing information about the official hearing. Both the property owner and property appraiser will have an opportunity to present evidence at the hearing. The clerk will then notify both parties of the value adjustment board’s final decision. The decision notice will explain whether the board made any changes, the information the board considered and the legal basis for the decision. Being represented by a local Florida real estate attorney with extensive experience in property tax appeals is highly recommended.

Property tax assessments are sent in July or August to property owners in the form of a TRIM (“Truth in Millage”) notice. 

If a property owner does not agree with the value adjustment board’s decision, they can file a lawsuit in circuit court. Property owners can also file a lawsuit without having met with the property appraiser or filing a petition with the value adjustment board, but typically circuit court is a last resort. The lawsuit must be filed within sixty days of the date of the value adjustment board’s decision or the property appraiser’s certification of the tax roll.  In such cases, the county will be represented by lawyers and commercial property owners should beware of attempting to “go it alone”.  If you are assessed for more commercial property tax than you should rightfully pay, make sure you are represented by a local Florida real estate attorney with extensive experience in property tax appeals.

Call South Florida Law 

Are you a commercial property owner who believes your property has been overvalued? Exercise your right to appeal your TRIM notice. Reach out to South Florida Law at (945) 900-8885 or simply upload your TRIM notice and fill out our Property Tax Appeals form online for immediate attention.

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