How Property Taxes Work

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How Property Appraisal and Taxes Work

What are the duties of the Property Appraiser?

The Property Appraiser is charged by the State Constitution and statutes with appraising all property in Alachua County at 100% of market value as of January 1 every year. This means that Florida is on an annual reappraisal cycle so your property value could change each and every year.

How does the appraisal process work?

When a parcel of land is created, sales of similar properties are reviewed to determine the correct land value. When a building permit is issued on a parcel, one of our appraisers will visit the property to value the improvements. At least once every three years one of our appraisers will inspect your property to verify the information on the property record card. In addition, sales of the area will be reviewed at least once every three years to determine if there has been a change in the market value.

How is the market value determined?

Market value is how much a property would sell for, in an open market, under normal conditions. Market value is determined by analyzing the sales of similar properties, the cost to reproduce the property and the ability of the property to earn income.

In Alachua County, as in the rest of Florida, we use a Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal (CAMA) system. The CAMA system incorporates our conclusions from the three approaches to value. Although this seems complicated, please keep in mind that we feel the best evidence of your market value are the sales, prior to January 1, of properties similar to yours.

How does Amendment 10/Save Our Homes (SOH) affect the property taxes?

Example: The year after you purchased your home it was appraised at $100,000. You qualified for the homestead exemption, so your taxable value is $50,000 ($100,000 minus $50,000). In the following year the market value of your home has increased to $109,000. However, because of SOH that value can only increase to $103,000 (the lower of 3% or the change in the Consumer Price Index). Therefore, your taxable value is $53,000 ($103,000 minus $50,000) instead of $59,000 ($109,000 minus $50,000).

How are the property taxes calculated?

The tax rate (millage) is set by the various taxing authorities within which your property is located. These authorities are authorized by law to levy taxes on real estate and tangible personal property to fund their operations and services.

As part of their budget process, these taxing authorities set millage rates based upon their determination of what services are needed. They set the rate by dividing their total budget by the total taxable value of property within the taxing district. The amount of taxes you owe is determined by applying the millage rate to your property’s taxable value.

Your November tax bill is calculated by multiplying your property’s taxable value by the aggregate millage rate set by the taxing authorities in which your property is located. For example: Taxable value of $100,000 x 28.5 mills = $2850.00.

How does the appeals process work?

The appeals process begins in mid-August when a property owner receives the Notice of Proposed Property Taxes, or TRIM notice. The notice will indicate public hearing dates, times and locations for each taxing authority and your proposed property values.

To appeal your property value, the first and most successful option is a meeting with one of our appraisal consultants. In this meeting, you will review the physical information on your property (i.e., Is the property measured correctly and are the correct building materials reflected in our records?) and review sales of other properties and other pertinent information.

The Value Adjustment Board is the next step in the appeals process. However, this procedure is slightly more complex and formal that the informal meeting with one of our appraisal consultants. It is highly recommended that you exhaust the informal approach prior to undertaking this step.

If you are still not pleased after the VAB, your next step is to file a suit against us in circuit court. This proceeding gets very formal and has a lot of rules. If you are considering this option, you should consult an attorney.

One last note that applies to all levels of appeal: There is no provision in Florida law for your value to be reduced because of personal hardship or inability to pay. While we definitely empathize with the many difficult personal situations people experience, we cannot lower values because of them. Likewise, what other properties are appraised for is irrelevant in the appeal process. The theory is that two wrongs do not make a right. If you point out that the value of another property is too low, our correct response is to raise the other property value, not lower your property value. Please be prepared to talk about your appraised value, not taxes.

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