For The Property Owner Who Wants To Know . . .

By state law, it is the responsibility of the county Property Appraiser's office to locate, identify and annually appraise (at market value, considering costs of sale) all property subject to ad valorem taxes, maintain fair property values and process allowable exemptions.

 

Finding the market value of your property is a matter of discovering the price most people would pay for your property in the condition it is in today. There are basically two kinds of appraisal: (1) mass appraisal in which a community is valued for tax purposes, and (2) fee appraisal in which only one piece of property is appraised and is often used in conjunction with mortgages. Both types of appraisals utilize the same appraisal principles and theories; however, each is accomplished under a different set of rules, procedures and guidelines.

 

Mass appraisal process involves analyzing data collected in mass quantities, developing statistics from the data, and applying the results to large numbers of properties. Mass appraisal requires standardized methods to ensure fair treatment within property classes. This is a broad perspective of value for larger groups of properties. Whereas, the single property appraisal approach selects only the data that most closely approximates the conditions of one individual property and applies singular analysis to that property. This approach focuses directly on a single property.  The Property Appraiser's office uses the mass appraisal process.

 

In addition to appraising property, the Property Appraiser must administer homestead, widow/widower, disability and low income senior’s exemptions, determine property entitled to agricultural classification, and determine the eligibility of certain religious, charitable, educational, and municipal property for tax exemptions.

 

While the county Property Appraiser determines the value of property for tax purposes, the Property Appraiser has no jurisdiction or responsibility for district budgets, tax rates, special assessments or amount of taxes paid. These matters are handled by the various taxing authorities performing services, such as the county government, city governments, school board and other taxing authorities.

What causes assessed values to change?

The property tax is "ad valorem." This means your property tax is based upon the value of your property. When the market value of your property changes, so does your appraised value.

 

A property's value can change for many reasons. For instance, if you were to increase the  market value of your property by adding a bedroom, garage, or swimming pool, the appraised value would increase proportionately. Similarly, should your property's value be decreased by a hurricane or fire, the appraised value would decrease to show the downward effect of this damage on the market value of your property.

 

Collection and updating of information is very important in the appraisal process. Properties on which building permits are issued are inspected annually. In addition, our field appraisers make physical inspections of properties periodically in order to review the condition, quality and size of structures.

 

The most frequent cause of a change in value is a change in the market. Buyers and sellers in the market affect value. The Property Appraiser's office studies the market and collects information about the market to estimate value.  Assessed values are based on an assessment date of January 1st of the tax year.

 

State law requires the county Property Appraiser to appraise property at 100% market value, with allowances for costs of sale. The State Department of Revenue, the agency to whom the Property Appraiser reports, conducts an in-depth audit of the tax roll every other year to ensure compliance. If the levels of assessment do not comply with the law, the tax roll will be denied.

 

Assessments are not affected by how much money the taxing authorities want. The Property Appraiser reports to the Department of Revenue and does not come under the influence of the commissioners, school board or other taxing authorities.  The Department of Revenue is impartial because it does not receive any property tax revenue.

What is the “Save Our Homes” assessment cap?

Florida voters approved a state constitutional amendment in 1992 to limit increases in the assessed value of homestead-exempt property to 3% per year or the amount of increase in the consumer price index (CPI), whichever is lower.  For 2009, the assessment cap is 0.1%.

  • When a property with homestead exemption is sold, Florida law requires that the following year the homestead exemption and cap be removed, and the property be re-assessed to equal its market value.  The buyer should not rely on the seller’s current property taxes as the amount of property taxes that the buyer may be obligated to pay in the year subsequent to purchase.  A change of ownership triggers reassessment of the property that could result in higher property taxes.  If you have any questions concerning valuation, contact the Property Appraiser’s office for information.

Warning:  If you purchased your property after January 1st of the current tax year, you may have inherited the previous owner’s exemption and cap.  By state law, this exemption and cap will be removed the following year.  You must file for your own homestead exemption.

  • The first year you receive your homestead exemption is your “base year, and the assessed value will be the same as the market value.  The year after you first receive homestead exemption will be the first year the assessed value is capped, or limited from increasing.  For example, if you have a new homestead exemption for 2018, your assessed value will not be capped or limited from increasing until 2019.  The increase is not automatic since the assessed value cannot be greater than the market value.
  • If you make additions or improvements to your property, the value of these improvements will be added to the roll regardless of the cap.  For example, if you added a pool to your property in 2017, your 2018 assessed value can increase no more than 0.1% plus the value of the pool.
  • The cap applies only to property value, not to property taxes.
  • Non-homestead exempt properties are not eligible for the cap.
  • The cap does not apply to portions of multi-use or multi-family properties that are not homestead. For example, if you own a duplex, live in one half and rent the other, the cap will only apply to the portion of the property you occupy as your homestead.
  • The assessed value can increase by the amount of the assessment cap even if the market value decreases, but the assessed value cannot exceed the market value.

Who determines the amount of taxes I pay?

While the county Property Appraiser determines the value of the property for tax purposes, the local taxing authorities (school board, commissioners, etc.) decide how much money is required to provide services and establish the millage rate. The Property Appraiser does not determine the amount of taxes you pay. The taxes may increase or decrease depending on the millage rate set by the taxing authorities. The assessed value provides the base for the equation.

There are three major phases of the real property taxation process:

  • Property appraisal and assessment (Property Appraiser),
  • Budget and tax levy (school board, commissioners and other taxing authorities),
  • Tax billing and collection (Tax Collector).

The Property Appraiser is not the Tax Collector and the Property Appraiser has nothing to do with the total amount of taxes collected.  However, as a property owner, you are not only interested in what value the Property Appraiser places on your property, but in the way the amount of taxes you pay is determined.

Example:

Assume the Property Appraiser has found the taxable value of your home to be $200,000.   Now let's assume that the tax rate in your community has been set by the taxing authorities (school board, commissioners, etc.) at 16 mills.  That's $16.00 of taxes per $1,000 of taxable value.
  • Divide the taxable value of your property by 1,000.

$200,000 /1,000 = 200

  • Now multiply the answer (200) by the tax rate ($16.00).

200 X $16.00 = $3,200

This is the amount of tax due on your property. You can reduce this amount somewhat by observing the prompt payment discounts noted on your property tax bill.
If you are concerned about rising taxes you are encouraged to:
  • Attend budget hearings;
  • Call or write the taxing authorities;
  • Decide what services you are willing to do without to keep taxes low;
  • Work for efficiency in government.

Related Information

How is my property value determined?

When appraising homes, we consider two approaches to value.  The first method is the Comparable Sales Approach.

1. Comparable Sales Approach

Using this method, we find properties similar to yours which have recently sold within your neighborhood.  We compare the selling prices and adjust for differences between the properties such as living area, quality of construction and year built to arrive at an indicated value by this approach.  The selling prices must be carefully analyzed to obtain a clear understanding of the transaction. The sale price may have included personal property such as furniture or a golf cart.  A property may have sold for more than it was worth because the buyer was in a hurry to occupy the property and was willing to pay a premium to move in. Another property may have sold for less than it was worth because the owner needed to expedite the sale and was willing to sell to the first buyer who made an offer. The Property Appraiser considers such “over” or “under” pricing to arrive at a fair evaluation of your property's value.

2. Cost Approach

The second method the Property Appraiser may use to determine your property value is to decide how much money it would take, based on current material and labor costs, to replace your property with one just like it. If your property is not new, the Property Appraiser must also determine how much it has depreciated.

A third method, known as the Income Approach, is used when the property (i.e. apartment house, a store or a warehouse) provides a rental income. The Property Appraiser considers monetary factors such as operating expenses, taxes, insurance, maintenance costs, the degree of financial risk you take in earning income from your property, and finally, the return most people would expect to get on this kind of property.

Why do I pay more taxes than my next door neighbor when we have the same house?

Your neighbor may have qualified for the homestead exemption in an earlier year or you may not have homestead exemption. Non-homestead properties are not eligible for the cap.

When does the Property Appraiser’s office physically inspect my property and why?

There are several reasons our office may conduct a field inspection:

  • You obtained a building permit from the municipality where your property is located.
  • If the property recently sold we will inspect the property to verify our records.  If the property owner is at home we attempt to verify the sale information.
  • Your property may be considered a comparable property to other properties we are reviewing at an owners’ request.
  • We periodically inspect entire neighborhoods to review condition, quality and size of your home.

The property owner is not always at home when we conduct our exterior field inspection.  If properties have a gate or a “no trespassing sign” we will contact the property owner for permission and make an appointment to conduct our field inspection.

If I tear down my house to rebuild, will I get to keep my homestead exemption and cap? The following procedure will be used for those properties with homestead exemption that are gutted, under major remodel or torn down as of January 1 of the tax year:

  • Each property will be reviewed individually for eligibility to maintain homestead exemption and cap benefits.
  • Owner cannot have a residency based exemption anywhere else and must continue to be a Florida resident.
  • There must be some portion of the structure in place as of January 1 of the tax year, because there cannot be a homestead exemption on vacant land.
  • For each tax year that the improvement remains under construction, it is the responsibility of the owner to contact our office and let us know the status of the construction as of January 1 of the tax year.
  • Owner must show due diligence in completing the home construction. The construction time should be similar to other homes of that quality, size and amenities.
  • Each owner will be required to sign an Affidavit of Intent.
  • The land portion of value will continue to cap as long as the other criteria are met. On January 1 of the tax year, we will inspect the property and determine the value of the improvements that are complete, and that value will go on at full market the first year and cap each subsequent year after that.

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