If you own more than one home or are a Florida real estate investor, your annual TRIM (“Truth in Millage”) Notices could show you owe too much tax through overvalued appraisals.
You can request a conference with the property tax appraiser, file an appeal, or do both at the same time. To get a tax reduction in the same year, you must show that the appraiser valued your properties too high when they set them on January 1st.
As we mentioned in prior blog posts, many factors affect how an appraiser sets property values, and it’s to your advantage to find out about them before you go through the appeals process. Especially for multiple properties, it can be complex and time-consuming, but if you present a convincing argument, you may end up paying less tax.
Filing An Appeal
You should gather evidence, such as income and financial statements, appraisal reports, and photos. You can search for your property records at your county property appraiser’s website.
Among the factors involved when you want to challenge property values is to verify your data to make sure it’s correct. That includes the right lot measurements down to the square feet and looking at how much the county assessed similar properties to bolster your claim.
An independent appraiser may also back up your claim. Contact your local appraisal office to see if they will include independent appraisals in their decisions.
To make a property tax appeal for more than one building, you may file a petition to the county value adjustment board (VAB) or file a lawsuit in a circuit court.
An independent government agency, the VAB accepts and processes taxpayers’ petitions contesting the property appraiser’s value of real estate and personal property. It consists of five elected officials: two county commissioners, one school board member, and two citizens. A licensed real estate appraiser or attorney, known as a special magistrate, will consider your case and advise the VAB members.
If you choose to appeal to the VAB, you must do so, online, by mail, or in person within 25 days of receiving your TRIM notice. You should file one petition for each parcel control number unless the properties meet the criteria for multiple parcels under a single petition. You must also get prior approval from the property appraiser to file one petition for multiple parcels; the appraiser will provide and complete special forms for these cases, which you must give to the VAB clerk upon filing.
There is a $15.00 filing fee per parcel of property, identified by a “folio” number. When condominium associations, cooperatives, and others file only a $5.00 fee per folio is required.
The VAB clerk will schedule each petitioned property for a hearing and send you a written notice of the date, time, and location. Like any trial, at the hearing, both sides have the chance to present their arguments for or against the appeal through providing testimony and presenting evidence.
You can choose to have an authorized attorney or professional agent represent you, but it’s not required.
At least 15 days before your hearing, you must give the property appraiser a list and summary of evidence with copies of documents you will present at the hearing. If you want the property appraiser to provide a list and summary of the evidence and copies of documents he or she will present, you must do so in writing. The property appraiser must give you the information at least seven days before the hearing. If the appraiser doesn’t, you can ask to reschedule the hearing.
After the hearing, a special magistrate will recommend to the VAB whether or you should get a tax assessment adjustment, and the VAB will later consider and act on the recommendation without further testimony. You will receive a written copy of this recommendation within 20 days. The VAB will also mail you a final “Record of Decision Notice” after it officially adopts the special magistrate’s recommendation and certifies the assessment.
Meeting Deadlines for Appeals
Alternatively, if you decide to go through the VAB and are unhappy with the decision, you can file a lawsuit. But, you must do so within 60 days of the decision. For challenges that deny a homestead exemption, you must file no later than 15 days after the VAB decision.
Regardless of whether you file a lawsuit or a petition through the VAB, time is of the essence. You need to make your appeal and get your documents together in time.
If you’re not sure which course is best for multiple properties, it makes sense to talk to a property tax consultant regarding your appeals.
We will help you maximize your property tax values while you minimize your tax risk. We have the knowledge, skills, and experience to guide you to the right decision and help lower your property tax appraisal. If you believe that your property has been over-assessed, contact us. We will work with you to evaluate your rights and challenge the assessment before the value adjustment board.