Property Tax Appeals: If you own residential real estate in Florida, you are likely required to pay residential property tax. Smart residential property owners can carefully review their property valuation to ensure the amount they are paying is accurate. Overvalued property assessments are not unusual, and therefore it is essential that residential property owners take advantage of their right to appeal overvalued property tax assessments.
What is residential property tax?
Residential property tax, like commercial property tax, is an annual tax rate that is based on the value of a given 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. Property tax assessments are sent in July or August to property owners in the form of a TRIM (“Truth in Millage”) notice. TRIM notices must be appealed within a limited time frame, usually by mid-September.
Applying for exemptions
Florida tax exemptions may be applied to reduce the taxable value of a property. The most common adjustment in Florida for residential real estate properties is referred to as the “homestead” exemptions. The homestead exemption reduces the taxable value by at least $25,000 and up to $50,00 for a home that the owner occupies as their primary residence. The homestead exemption does not apply to second homes, vacation homes or timeshares. To potentially qualify, the application for homestead exemptions must be filed with the county by March 1st of the tax year. All applicants must provide documentation of permanent residence to the appraiser. Additional exemptions may also be available for widows and widowers, seniors, veterans and people with disabilities.
Three ways to appeal a property appraiser’s assessment
If a residential property owner disagrees with the property tax 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. All avenues of appeal are best done with the legal assistance of an experienced Florida real estate attorney.
Holding an informal conference with the property appraiser is sometimes the first step in the 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 residential 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. Alternatively, this conference can be conducted by your legal representative, ideally a Florida real estate attorney with experience in handling residential property tax appeals.
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.
Overvalued property assessments are not unusual, and therefore it is essential that residential property owners take advantage of their right to appeal overvalued property tax assessments.
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 residential property owners should beware of attempting to “go it alone”. If you are assessed for more residential 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 residential property owner and believe you have been assessed for too much property tax or that you qualify for an exemption? 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.