On December 20th, 2017, President Trump stood outside the White House and announced that Congress had passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“Tax Act”), the most thorough overhaul of the federal tax code since the Reagan administration. Like American taxpayers everywhere, most Floridians are wondering:

How will this tax legislation affect me?”

Because the

As of January 1st of 2017, it has been reported that the total value of real property in Lee County increased for the fifth consecutive year to $105.6 billion (nearly 9% higher than 2016 values).

With this year’s Truth in Millage (“TRIM”) Notices just around the corner (typically mailed by the Lee County Property Appraiser in mid-August), one recent legal opinion highlights the nuances of remedies available to the property owner—and the Property Appraiser—in the event assessed values are contested.

Background on Florida’s “Save Our Homes” Doctrine

For real property that has been classified as a “homestead” in Florida, the Save Our Homes provision of Section 193.155(1), Florida Statutes, allows for an annual increase of only 3% in the assessed value of property, or the yearly increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), whichever is less. Moreover, under 193.155(2), Florida Statutes, if the capped value exceeds the market value in a given year, the capped value will be reduced to the market value.

Nikolits v. Haney


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tax burdenThose owning real property in Lee County have likely received their annual TRIM (Truth in Millage) Notice. We have found that some questions continue to repeat every year once taxpayers receive their TRIM Notices.

To help taxpayers understand what the TRIM means for them, we thought it would be helpful to go through a few quick tips for what to look for when reviewing this important document:
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The Foreign Investment in Real Property Act of 1980 (mercifully shortened in real estate and tax circles to “FIRPTA”) is a federal law designed to collect taxes on a foreign seller’s “disposition” of real property held in the U.S. The Act casts a wide net and applies not only to the sale of both commercial and residential properties, but also other real property interests such as swimming pools, mines, crops, and timber, just to name a few. Besides the typical sale of real property, the Act also extends to foreclosures and corporate mergers/reorganizations, among other “dispositions” of real property.

Foreign Investment on the Rise

With both residential and commercial real estate prices rising, but still deflated from the highs in 2008, both the U.S. as a whole, and Florida in particular, have experienced an influx of foreign investment in real estate.


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As those of us with school-aged children start frantically counting our last days until the new semester begins, we can be reminded that it is also that time of year when the county property appraisers begin to mail out the annual TRIM notices to notify taxpayers within their jurisdictions of the proposed property taxes for

tax.jpgIn the past few months, several clients have contacted me with questions regarding property that had been obtained through tax deeds. For example, one client contacted me to discuss property that had been purchased from an individual who obtained the property through a tax deed sale two years earlier. At the recent purchase, the client had obtained an owner’s title policy; however, there was an exception to this policy for anyone claiming by, through or under the prior owner whose title to the property had been disgorged by the tax deed sale. My client intended to develop the property into a multi-unit residential complex and wanted to be certain that they could provide clear title to the eventual third-party purchasers.

Background

Prior to a property being sold at auction via a tax sale, several things must have occurred or, in some cases, not occurred. By way of example, let’s say that “Adam” is an individual who owns a 10 acre tract of vacant land in Lee County, Florida. After the 2008 real estate crash, Adam fell on hard times and failed to pay the 2008 ad valorem taxes due and payable on March 1, 2009. On April 1, 2009, the taxes for Adam’s property were deemed delinquent and the tax collector, as required by law, advertised Adam’s property (along with other delinquent properties) once a week for three consecutive weeks for the sale of a tax certificate on the delinquent 2008 taxes. Once the delinquent properties had been properly advertised, the tax collector established an on-line auction for a tax certificate for the delinquent 2008 taxes.


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The landscape of Florida has seen rapid change over the last several decades, and none has been more drastic that the urbanization and development of Florida’s farms and agricultural areas. With increased development comes higher property values and increased property taxes. In an effort to assist farmers and agricultural landowners, the Florida Legislature passed bills

The filing period for submitting applications for ad valorem property tax exemptions to the county Property Appraisers opened January 1, 2011.  If you believe you might qualify for such exemption for your 2011 property taxes, you must file your application with the Property Appraiser before March 1, 2011.  The two most common exemptions applied for include:

The filing period for submitting applications for ad valorem property tax exemptions to the county Property Appraisers opened January 1, 2011. If you believe you might qualify for such exemption for your 2011 property taxes, you must file your application with the Property Appraiser before March 1, 2011. The two most common exemptions applied for include:

  • Homestead Exemption: Those who qualify for a homestead exemption can seek up to two (2) $25,000 exemptions (for a potential combined total of $50,000) from their home’s assessed value. Basic criteria are that the applicant is a bona fide Florida resident possessing title to the property and residing at the property on January 1, 2011 as their permanent residence. There are other criteria and many exceptions as well.
  • Agricultural Exemption: The property must have been used for a bona fide commercial agricultural use as of January 1, 2011. The applicant is asked to submit various supporting information, including financial documents, to support an agricultural classification on the property.

Other ad valorem real property exemptions include, among others:

  • Senior Exemption
  • Widow/Widower Exemption
  • Veterans Disability Exemption

There are a host of exemptions applicable to tangible personal property as well. Applications for these exemptions, as well as additional information on each, can be found on your local Property Appraiser’s website.

For those interested in some recent case law addressing the homestead and agricultural exemptions, see below.


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