Every August, each county tax assessor in Florida mails out a TRIM notice to property owners. An increase in property taxes is usually an unwelcome surprised for most homeowners. Property tax assessments are calculated based on the County Appraiser’s determined fair market value of the house less any assessment differentials and exemptions. The amount is called the “taxable value” and is then multiplied by the millage rate to calculate the next year’s taxes. A homeowner that hasn’t made improvements to their property or seen a drastic increase in property value may want to appeal a property’s assessed value. There are two ways to appeal a property’s assessed value and in turn the amount of taxes due.
A VAB Filing
The most common way to appeal a tax assessment is to file a VAB (Value Adjustment Board) notice with the county tax assessor. Property owners have twenty-five days from the date of mailing of the TRIM notice to give notice of appeal. A qualified member of the assessor’s staff will meet with the homeowner to review the county’s appraisal. The owner will have the opportunity to raise his or her disputes at this time. It’s possible that the disagreement can be settled during this meeting.
If a resolution is not reached during a meeting, the owner can petition the VAB for a hearing. Fifteen days prior to the hearing date, the owner must provide a list and documentation of any evidence he or she intends to use during the hearing. The owner can request, in writing, for the same information from the property tax assessor. A final determination is made after the hearing, within twenty days. The owner will receive written notice of the decisions, any changes made, and the basis for the decision.
A Circuit Court Lawsuit
Any Florida property owner can file suit to contest a property assessment with the Circuit Court within the county the property is located. The owner does not need to have previously petitioned the VAB. A Court filing must be filed within sixty days of receiving a TRIM notice or within sixty days of a decision by a VAB. Lawsuits disputing assessments must list the County Property Appraiser, Tax Collector, and Director of the Department of Revenue as defendants in the suit. The burden of proof that an adjustment is necessary is on the owner and the owner has the opportunity to present witnesses during the trial. All taxes must be paid current and if a dispute is found in favor of the owner, a refund will be issued.
Time is of the essence no matter what route a homeowner chooses to raise their dispute. It’s important to review the TRIM notice for accuracy and any changes as soon as it is received. A homeowner is not required to hire an attorney or other third party to appeal a property’s assessed value but may find it of great use and reassurance for complicated cases. We can help you find the most accurate and current information for comparable home values to help in your assessment appeal.