ABOUT THE APPRAISAL and TAXATION SYSTEM
Does the Property Appraiser levy or collect taxes?No. The Property Appraiser assesses all property in the county and is neither a Taxing Authority nor a Tax Collector. The Property Appraiser has nothing to do with the amount of taxes levied or collected.
Three separate government entities each having unique and distinct roles in producing your November tax bill. First, the Property Appraiser annually appraises all property in your county at the market value as of January 1. Next, each Taxing Authority within the county sets their own millage rate based on the amount of tax dollars necessary to fund their annual budget. Finally, the Tax Collector issues the bill and collects all taxes levied within the county.
How is property appraised?The value of your property is considered each year as of Jan 1st. At least once every five years, the Property Appraiser or a staff appraiser will visit and inspect each property. Individual property values may be adjusted in light of sales activity or other factors affecting real estate values in your neighborhood. Sales of similar properties are strong indicators of value in the real estate market.
To estimate the value of a property, the Property Appraiser must identify the properties that have sold, their sale prices and the terms and conditions of the each sale. Each transaction must be studied to make sure that it is an arms-length transaction.
An arm's length transaction is a sale involving a willing seller and a willing buyer without any undue pressure or special incentives (such as family relationships). An arm's length transaction also means that the property was exposed to the market for a reasonable amount of time and that the transaction is based upon financing terms that are typical of the market.
Once this is determined, the Property Appraiser can base the value of a property on sales of comparable properties. That is why Property Appraisers maintain an accurate data base of real estate information, and this is the sale comparison approach to value.
The Florida Constitution was amended to limit any annual increase in the assessed value of residential property with a Homestead Exemption to 3 percent or the Consumer Price Index(CPI), whichever is lower. This limitation does not include any change, addition or improvement to a homestead (excluding normal maintenance or substantially equivalent replacement). During subsequent years, any improvements will fall under the Constitutional limitation. You will not lose your exemption because you improve your property. All other "non homestead" properties are typically capped at 10% increases.
Two other methods are used to appraise property - the cost approach and the income approach. The cost approach is based on how much it would cost today to build an almost identical structure on the parcel. If your property is not new, the appraiser must also determine how much the building has lost value over time. The appraiser must also determine the value of the land itself - without buildings or any improvements. The income approach (usually performed on commercial property) requires a study of how much revenue your property would produce if it were rented as an apartment house, a store, an office building and so on. The appraiser must consider operating expenses, taxes, insurance, maintenance costs, and the return or profit most people would expect on the type of property you own.
What is market value?Florida Law requires that the just value of all property be determined each year. The Supreme Court of Florida has declared "just value" to be legally synonymous to "full cash value" and "fair market value." The fair market value of your property is the amount for which it could sell on the open market. The Property Appraiser analyzes these market transactions annually to determine fair market value as of January 1. Remember that your value is approximately 1 year old when you pay your tax bill.
When will I know the amount of my tax bill?Each August, the Property Appraiser sends a Truth in Millage (TRIM) notice to all property owners as required by law. This notice is very important -- look for it in the mail! You'll recognize it by prominent lettering, "DO NOT PAY - This is not a bill."
The TRIM notice tells you the taxable value of your property. Taxable value is the just value less any exemptions.
The TRIM notice also gives you information on proposed millage rates and taxes as estimated by your community taxing authorities. It also tells you when and where these authorities will hold public meetings to discuss tentative budgets to finalize your millage tax rates and, therefore, your taxes.
What if I think the appraised value of my property is too high?If you think the taxable value shown on your TRIM Notice is not correct, you are encouraged to contact your Property Appraiser's office to speak with an appraiser. The appraiser can explain how we determine your property's value. You have specific legal rights. As there are time limits with regards to these rights, contact the Property Appraiser's office as soon as possible if you have questions regarding your valuation or your exemption status. If you are not satisfied with our response, you may file a claim with the Valuation Adjustment Board.