tax.jpgAs a property owner in Florida, you have a right to appeal the property appraiser’s assessment of your property’s value, a denial of your application for an exemption (homestead, veterans, or senior citizen), a portability denial, and a denial of your application for property classification such as agricultural or historic. For a few “Helpful Tips for Reviewing your TRIM Notice”, please click here.

Typically, once a taxpayer decides to bring a challenge based on any of the above-mentioned grounds, a request for an informal conference will be made with the County’s property appraiser to discuss the value or to discuss the denial of an application for a property exemption or classification. Following an informal conference, in the event that the issues cannot be favorably settled, taxpayers (or their representatives) can file a petition with the local Value Adjustment Board (VAB). Alternatively, Florida law allows taxpayers to bring such challenges in circuit court.

Appeals to the Value Adjustment Board (VAB)

Each VAB is comprised of five members, with two members from the board of county commissioners, one member from the school board, and two citizen members. Many counties in Southwest Florida (such as Lee County) have appointed a special magistrate to conduct hearings and recommend decisions to the VAB. Special magistrates are trained neutral arbiters who are oftentimes local licensed appraisers.

Deadlines for Filing a Petition

Under Florida law, the deadlines for filing a petition are explained in detail. For appeals of the property appraiser’s assessment of your property, a petition must be filed within 25 days after the property appraiser mails the notice of Proposed Property Taxes (TRIM Notice), which is typically in mid-August. The filing deadline can be found on the TRIM notice itself. Moreover, petitions appealing the portability of your ad valorem taxes must be filed within 25 days after the property appraiser mails your TRIM notice.

For appeals of an exemption or classification of your property, a petition must be filed within 30 days after the property appraiser mails the denial notice, which the property appraiser must mail before July 1st.

Once the petition has been filed, the taxpayer will receive a notice with the date, time, and location of the hearing at least 25 days before the hearing date. An exchange of evidence will occur thereafter, whereby the taxpayer must give the property appraiser a list and summary of evidence that will be presented at the hearing. Likewise, if a written request is made to the property appraiser by the taxpayer, the property appraiser is required to provide a list and summary of the County’s evidence that will be presented at least seven days before the hearing.

As a reminder, it is important to note that even though a petition may have been filed with the VAB, the petition must be denied if the taxpayer has not paid his or her non ad valorem assessments and ad valorem taxes before they become delinquent.

Take-Away

Each year, the local property appraiser establishes the value of your property as of January 1st. Since TRIM notices will soon be delivered to property owners around Southwest Florida, it is important to know your rights and the procedures for pursuing an appeal to your local VAB.

Should you need any assistance with reviewing your TRIM Notice or complying with the above-mentioned statutory deadlines for filing and pursuing a petition to the VAB, please contact me by telephone at (239) 344-1178 or by email at austin.turner@henlaw.com.