By: Brandon Degel, Esquire and Trippe Cheek, Esquire
Understanding the processes, dates, and deadlines for challenging your 2021 ad valorem tax assessment.
Over the next few days, Florida property owners and managers will receive their annual “Truth in Millage” (or “TRIM”) notices in the mail from their local property appraiser’s office. These notices are sent out each August to notify real property owners of their proposed tax assessments before the issuance of a final bill. You, as a Florida property owner, have the right to contest the property appraiser’s valuation and assessment of your real property. However, there are specific processes, dates, and deadlines for doing so, and it’s critical to understand these if you disagree with and are considering an appeal of your property taxes.
Options for Appeal: A property owner has three options for appealing real property taxes. First, the property owner can contact the county property appraiser’s office to discuss the assessment and attempt to negotiate a reduction. This informal discussion can potentially resolve the issue without the need for a formal hearing. Second, the property owner can file a petition to the county value adjustment board (“VAB”), where the property owner will generally have the opportunity to present evidence to a neutral special magistrate. The special magistrate makes a recommendation to the full VAB, which will ultimately decide whether a reduction is warranted. Lastly, the property owner has the option to file a lawsuit in circuit civil court challenging the property taxes.
Timing is Key: Property owners have a very short period of time to administratively challenge their property values – usually 25 days from the mailing of the TRIM notice. Be sure to look at your TRIM notice for the specific deadline to file a petition to the VAB. If you miss the VAB petition deadline, you can no longer seek administrative review of your property taxes, but you can still file a lawsuit in circuit court challenging the valuation (must be filed no later than 60 days after the contested assessment is certified).
Method/Filing Costs: The county clerk charges a $15 fee per parcel to file a petition to the VAB. In many counties (including Orange and Seminole), the petitions can be completed online or mailed to the VAB. You should check with your local VAB and clerk to determine if filing an online petition is available in your county. If you decide to proceed with a lawsuit, you can file a complaint with the county clerk, who charges a $400 filing fee.
There a number of considerations that go into deciding whether or not to challenge your property taxes, and if you decide to do so, determining the most appropriate method for your circumstances. The attorneys at Winderweedle, Haines, Ward & Woodman have extensive experience with property valuation challenges, from the initial review of TRIM notices, to informal discussions with the property appraiser, through formal appeals to the VAB and filing of civil lawsuits.
If you have any questions regarding a potential challenge to your 2021 real estate taxes, please contact our office today to schedule a consultation with one of our real estate litigation attorneys.
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