Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Will your tax bill this year really reflect the value of your property?

It should come as no surprise that taxable property values across Florida are at an all time low. Total taxable values in Broward County dropped 11.7% to $129.9 billion while appraised values in Miami-Dade County fell 13.4%. Palm Beach County values dropped about 10.9% with the result being that cities and counties in our State are anticipating unprecedented budget cuts to make up the difference. Raising millage rates is also an option.

Even with these significant decreases in taxable values, will the TRIM notices that will start going out in August for Broward County and thereafter for other counties really reflect what you SHOULD be paying in terms of property tax?

Each calendar year, Property Appraisers from each of the 67 Florida Counties must complete an assessment of the value of all taxable property located within their respective counties no later than July 1st of the calendar year. In making this assessment, the Property Appraiser is required to physically inspect the property at least once every 5 years.

However, where geographically suitable, and at the discretion of the Property Appraiser, image technology may be used in lieu of a physical inspection to ensure that the tax roll meets all the requirements of law. However, if the taxpayer requests that his or her property be physically inspected within that 5-year period, the Property Appraiser must comply.

To arrive at a just valuation, the Property Appraiser must take into account the following factors:

• The present cash value of the property which is the amount a willing purchaser would pay a willing seller, exclusive of reasonable closing costs, in cash or the immediate equivalent thereof in an arm’s length transaction;

• The highest and best use to which the property can be put in the immediate future and the present legal 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;

• The income from the property; and

• The net proceeds of the sale of the property which shall not include closing costs, financing fees or net proceeds attributable to the sale of household furnishings or other personal property.

A taxpayer who is dissatisfied with the results of an assessment has several choices:

• Request an informal review with the County Property Appraiser’s Office to determine if an alternate value can be reached (we have been advised that some counties are routinely denying alternate valuation requested via this informal review process);

• Appeal to the Value Adjustment Board which is an entity that is independent of the County Property Appraiser’s Office; and

• Seek a judicial review of the Property Appraiser’s assessment in the Circuit Court of the County where the property is located.

How many of you feel that your tax bill really reflects the current value of your property and how many of you plan to use one of the avenues set forth above to fight your taxable value?

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