Challenging Property Taxes in Florida
Every November, Florida homeowners are required to pay a property tax, which is largely determined based on the value of each taxpayer’s home. Unfortunately, these calculations are not always accurate, causing the taxpayer to pay more than is fair. If you have reason to believe that your property taxes were calculated improperly, it is important to retain the services of an experienced tax attorney who can help you begin the appeals process.
Determining Taxable Value
In Florida, tax officials take two factors into consideration when deciding how much to tax a property, including:
- The value of the taxpayer’s home; and
- The tax rate.
To ascertain the value of a home, a county tax appraiser determines its value, which is usually what the property would sell for on the open market. Authorities then multiply the home’s value by the current tax rate, which varies depending on where the property is located.
Tax Record Errors
While many tax officials competently fulfill their duties, mistakes can be made, so homeowners who suspect that their appraisal was too high should review their tax record for errors, such as whether it:
- Accurately states the size of the home and the lot upon which it sits;
- Lists improvements that were not actually made to the house;
- Accurately lists the number of bathrooms and bedrooms;
- Contains information about the home’s defects;
- Accurately states the age of the home;
- Contains the correct purchase price; and
- Accounts for any tax breaks.
By notifying the appraiser of a mistake in the tax record, homeowners may be able to have their records corrected and their property tax subsequently adjusted. When homeowners cannot identify a mistake in the tax record, but still believe that their property was unfairly valued, they must take further steps, including:
- Obtaining information on how the appraiser valued properties similar to the homeowner’s; and
- Researching how much similar properties are selling for.
When reviewing the assessment records for properties similar to their own, homeowners should focus on homes of the same size that are located in the neighborhood. By comparing the assessments, a homeowner may be able to discover whether his or her property was over-assessed. Obtaining information on the recent sales of similar properties in the neighborhood can also help support the homeowner’s claim.
To appeal a property tax, a homeowner must have evidence that a mistake was made in appraising the home, or that similar homes in the same neighborhood were valued or sold for much less. In many cases, tax appraisers will agree to change the taxable value of the home when presented with accurate and convincing evidence. However, if the homeowner and the appraiser cannot reach an agreement, the homeowner can file an appeal by sending a petition to the county’s Value Adjustment Board within 25 days of receiving the appraiser’s assessment. When the petition has been processed, the Board will schedule a hearing, where the petitioner will have the opportunity to present his or her case. If the Board determines that the appraisal was accurate, homeowners can file an appeal in court within two months.
Being improperly taxed can have significant financial repercussions on homeowners, so if you live in the Daytona Beach, Orlando, Miami, or Jacksonville areas and you believe that your property was improperly valued by a tax appraiser, please contact Ronald Cutler, P.A. by calling 386-788-4480 to schedule a free consultation. If you are unable to meet during the week, we would be happy to schedule an appointment for the weekend to ensure that your case receives the one-on-one attention it deserves.