Frequently Asked Questions


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Appraisal Questions

What is a ''TRIM'' notice?
What does the property appraiser do?
Does the property appraiser levy or collect taxes?
How is property appraised?
What is market value?
Besides Homestead, what other exemptions are available under law?
When will I know the amount of my tax bill?
What if I think the appraised value of my property is too high?
What is an ''AG'' classification?

What does the property appraiser do?

The property appraiser is responsible for identifying, locating, and fairly valuing all property, both real and personal, within the county for tax purposes. The ''market'' value of real property is based on the current real estate market. Estimating the ''market'' value of your property means discovering the price most people would pay for your property in its current condition. What is important to remember is that the property appraiser does not create the value. People establish the value by buying and selling real estate in the market place. The property appraiser has the legal responsibility to study those transactions and appraise your property accordingly. The property appraiser also

     
  • tracks ownership changes;
  • maintains maps of parcel boundaries;
  • keeps descriptions of buildings and property characteristics up to date;
  • accepts and approves applications from individuals eligible for exemptions and other forms of property tax relief;
  • Analyzes trends in sales prices, construction costs, and rents to best estimate the value of all assessable property.

Does the property appraiser levy or collect taxes?

No. The property appraiser assesses all property in the county and is neither a taxing authority nor a tax collector. The property appraiser has nothing to do with the amount of taxes levied or collected.

Three separate government entities, each having unique and distinct roles, produce your November tax bill. First, the property appraiser annually appraises all property in your county at the market value as of January 1. Next, each taxing authority within the county sets their own millage rate based on the amount of tax dollars necessary to fund their annual budget. Finally, the tax collector takes the amount of taxes due in order to bill and collect all taxes levied within the county. 

How is property appraised?

At least once every five years, the property appraiser or a staff appraiser will visit and inspect each property. However, individual property values may be adjusted between visits in light of sales activity or other factors affecting real estate values in your neighborhood. Sales of similar properties are strong indicators of value in the real estate market.

 To estimate the value of a property, the property appraiser must identify the properties that have sold, their sale prices and the terms and conditions of the each sale. Each transaction must be studied to make sure that it is an arms-length transaction.

An arm's length transaction is a sale involving a willing seller and a willing buyer without any undue pressure or special incentives (such as family relationships). An arm's length transaction also means that the property was on the market for neither an excessive nor short period of time.

Once this is determined, the property appraiser can base the value of a property on sales of comparable properties. That is why property appraisers maintain an accurate data base of real estate information.

 The Florida Constitution was amended effective January 1, 1995 to limit any annual increase in the assessed value of residential property with a homestead exemption to 3 percent or the change in CPI, whichever is lowest. This limitation does not apply to any change, addition or significant improvement to a homestead (excluding normal maintenance or substantially equivalent replacement). During subsequent years, these improvements will fall under the Constitutional limitation.

 Two other methods are considered to appraise property - the cost approach and the income approach. The cost approach is based on how much it would cost today to build an almost identical structure on the parcel. If your property is not new, the appraiser must also determine how much the building has lost value over time. The appraiser must also determine the value of the land itself - without buildings or any improvements. The income approach (usually performed on commercial property) requires a study of how much revenue your property would produce if it were rented as an apartment house, a store, an office building and so on. The appraiser must consider operating expenses, taxes, insurance, maintenance costs, and the return or profit most people would expect on the type of property you own. 

What is market value?

Florida Law requires that the just value of all property be determined each year. The Supreme Court of Florida has declared ''just value'' to be legally synonymous to ''full cash value'' and ''fair market value.'' The fair market value of your property is the amount for which it could sell on the open market. The property appraiser analyzes these market transactions annually to determine fair market value as of January 1. 

Besides Homestead, what other exemptions are available under law?

Other available exemptions are listed below. Details on applying for these exemptions are at the ''Exemptions'' section of this web site.

  • Senior Exemption ($25,873).
  • Widow/Widower Exemption ($500).
  • Total and Permanent Disability Exemption ($25,221).
  • Total and Permanent Service Connected Disability Exemption (exempt from all taxation).
  • Veterans Disability Exemption ($5000).
  • Blind Exemption ($500).

When will I know the amount of my tax bill?

Each August, the Property Appraiser sends a ''Notice of Proposed Taxes,'' commonly known as a TRIM Notice (Truth in Millage) to all property owners. This notice is very important -- look for it in the mail! You'll recognize it by prominent lettering, ''DO NOT PAY - This is not a bill.''

 The TRIM notice tells you the taxable value of your property. Taxable value is the assessed value less any exemptions.

 The TRIM notice also gives you information on proposed millage rates and taxes as estimated by your community taxing authorities. It also tells you when and where these authorities will hold public meetings to discuss tentative budgets to set your millage tax rates.

 Fees not related to your property value may also appear on your TRIM notice for garbage collection, roads, lighting and other government services. These fees are set by your taxing authority and are not affected by any change in the value of your house or property. 

What if I think the appraised value of my property is too high?

If you think the taxable value shown on your TRIM Notice is not correct, you are encouraged to contact your property appraiser's office to speak with an appraiser. The appraiser can show you the information used to determine your property's value. 

What is an ''AG'' classification?

An agricultural classification is the designation of land by the property appraiser, pursuant to F.S. 193.461, in which the assessment is based on agricultural use value.

To qualify for Agricultural classification, a return must be filed with the property appraiser between January 1 and March 1 of the tax year. Only lands which are used for bona fide agricultural purposes shall be classified agricultural.

''Bona fide agricultural purposes'' means good faith commercial agricultural use of the land. The property appraiser, prior to classifying such lands, may require the taxpayer or the taxpayer's representative to furnish such information as may reasonably be required to establish such lands are actually used for a bona fide agricultural purpose.

 The property appraiser may deny agricultural classification to the following lands:

  • Lands which are not being used for or diverted from agricultural use;
  • Land that has been zoned non-agricultural at the request of the owner;
  • Land on which a subdivision plat is recorded;
  • Land which is purchased for a price three or more times the agricultural appraisal placed on the land.
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Homestead Exemption Information

If I buy a property, which currently has a homestead exemption, do I get the benefit of that exemption for the remainder of the year?
If I buy a new home, may I transfer my homestead exemption?
Do I have to be a citizen to qualify?
What if the property is in a trust?
Can I get a homestead exemption on a mobile home?



If I buy a property, which currently has a homestead exemption, do I get the benefit of that exemption for the remainder of the year?

If the seller had homestead exemption, the buyer may have the advantage of the seller's homestead exemption for the remainder of the sale year. However, the ''carried over'' homestead exemption will be removed as of December 31st of the sale year. The new owner must apply by the deadline for homestead exemption in their name for the following year. For example, if you purchase a homesteaded home in June of 2010, you will get the benefit of the previous owner's homestead exemption until December 31, 2010. For 2011, you must file an original homestead exemption application by March 1, 2011.

If I buy a new home, may I transfer my homestead exemption?

If you currently have a homestead exemption and purchased a new home in the same county, you must come into the office to do a transfer. A deed to the new property and a former tax bill or homestead card from the old property will be required. Additional documents will be required if the named property owners differ from one property's title to the other. Please call for details for your specific case.

Do I have to be a citizen to qualify?

Citizenship is not a requirement to file for homestead exemption. However, an applicant who is not a U.S. citizen must prove that they have permanent residency status when they apply. Please bring your INS issued permanent residency photo ID card when filing a homestead application.

What if the property is in a trust?

The applicant must furnish this office with a copy of the trust agreement. Florida law specifies those situations under which the resident may obtain homestead exemption. The Florida Constitution requires that the homestead claimant have legal title or beneficial title in equity to the property.

Can I get a homestead exemption on a mobile home?

Yes, if you possess a mobile home Real Property (RP) decal and own the land. When applying, you must bring in the title or registration to the mobile home.

Amendment 10 ''Save Our Homes'' Value Cap

WHAT is the Save Our Homes amendment?
HOW does the amendment limitation apply?
WHAT about any changes, additions or improvements to the homestead property?
WHAT properties are not subject to the limitation?
WHAT happens if a property is sold or conveyed to a new owner?

What is the Save Our Homes amendment?

Section 193.155(1) of the Florida Statutes was enacted to implement an amendment to the state constitution to limit annual increases in property value assessments on real property qualifying for and receiving homestead exemption. 

How does the amendment limitation apply?

Real property shall be assessed at full market value (just value) as of January 1 of the year in which the property first receives the homestead exemption. The following year the property is reassessed and any changes from the prior year's assessed value is not to exceed the lesser of 3% of that prior year assessed value or the Consumer Price Index percentage change, (except capital improvements, additions or improvements). For example, if you add a new porch to your home in June of 2010, the porch will be added to your assessment at full value in 2011. For subsequent years, the value of the porch will be included under the limitation.

What about any changes, additions or improvements to the homestead property?

New construction or additions shall be assessed at full market value as of the first January 1 after the changes are substantially completed. In these circumstances, it is possible that the assessed value may exceed the amendment limitations. However; after the first year that the changes are assessed at full market value, they are also subject to the amendment limitations. : For example, if you add a new porch to your home in June of 2006, the porch will be added to your assessment at full value in 2007. For subsequent years, the value of the porch will be included under the limitation.

What properties are not subject to the limitation?

Residences without homestead, non-residential property, vacant land, tangible personal property, commercial property, and agricultural property are not eligible for the amendment limitation. 

What happens if a property is sold or conveyed to a new owner?

Once the property has been conveyed to the new owner (and the homestead exemption is interrupted), it is raised to full market value (just value) January 1 of the following year. The new owner must qualify and apply to receive homestead exemption. Even if the property received a homestead exemption under the previous owner, the limitation, just like the exemption, expires January 1 of the year following a change of ownership.

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Tangible Personal Property

1. What is Tangible Personal Property?

2. How long have we had a TPP property tax?

3. Who must file a Tangible Personal Property (TPP) tax return (DR-405)? 

4. Why must I file a return?

5. What are examples of TPP that must be reported?

6. Are leasehold improvements tangible personal property?

7. What if I have old equipment that has been fully depreciated and written off the books?

8. How can I obtain a TPP tax return (DR-405)?

9. What if I receive more than one return?

10. Do I still have to file the return if I have no assets to report?

11. Is there a minimum value that I do not have to report?

12. If I'm no longer in business, should I still file the return?

13. Do I have to report assets that I lease, loan, rent, borrow or are provided in the rent?

14. If I rent my furnished home or condo for a few months, do I have to file a Tangible Personal Property tax return?

15. I am having difficulty meeting the April 1 deadline for filing my TPP tax return, can I file an extension

16. Are there deadlines and penalties?

17. If I buy or sell an existing business during the year - who is responsible for the taxes?

18. What is an office assessment?

19. What if I don't agree with the assessed value that appears on the notice of proposed property taxes I receive in August?

1. What is Tangible Personal Property (TPP)?

TPP can be defined as all goods other than real estate that has value by itself. 

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2. How long have we had a TPP property tax?

This state-imposed tax was first incorporated in 1941 by Governor Spessard L. Holland. The Tangible Personal Property tax along with the Real Estate tax comprise the ad valorem tax base we have in effect today. 

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3. Who must file a Tangible Personal Property (TPP) tax return (DR-405)?

Anyone in business as of January 1 must file a TPP tax return (DR-405). The business could be established as a proprietorship, partnership, corporation or as a self-employed individual. Property owners who lease, lend, or rent property or equipment must also file. All property owners who have been granted an agricultural exemption must file a TPP return to maintain their agricultural exemption. 

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4. Why must I file a return?

Florida Statute 193.052 requires that all TPP be reported each year to the Property Appraiser's Office. If you receive a return, it is because our office has determined that you may have property to report. If you feel the form is not applicable, return it with an explanation and ensure you sign and date the return. Either way, the form MUST be returned. Failure to receive a TPP Tax Return does not relieve you of your obligation to file. 
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5. What are examples of TPP that must be reported? 

All trade furniture, fixtures, and equipment are TPP. Examples of TPP include appliances, computers, communications towers, copiers, equipment, faxes, file cabinets, fixtures, furniture, leasehold improvements, machinery, phones, radios, safes, scanners, security systems, signs, tools, TV's, underground tanks, utility wires and poles, supplies and leased equipment. Property owned by others but is located at your business and/or used in your business must be reported. Property that you personally own and use in your business must be reported. Licensed vehicles designated as a tool rather than a hauling vehicle must be reported. Examples are towing equipment, cranes, pump trucks, loaders forklifts, and excavators. 

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6. Are leasehold improvements tangible personal property? 

If an improvement is of a permanent nature that cannot be readily replaced, or if removing the improvement would cause substantial damage to itself or the real estate, it is NOT considered tangible personal property. If the improvement can be easily removed without damaging itself or the real estate, then it is considered tangible personal property. 

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7. What if I have old equipment that has been fully depreciated and written off the books? 

Whether fully depreciated in your accounting records or not, all property still in use or physically located at your business must be reported. 

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8. How can I obtain a TPP tax return (DR-405)? 

TPP tax returns are mailed to businesses that are currently on the tax roll on January 1. You may also get a tax return from your accountant or CPA. If you do not receive one by the end of January, contact the Property Appraiser's Office. A tax return is also available from the Forms Page

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9. What if I receive more than one tax return? 

If you have more than one location, the assets of each location should be listed on a separate return. Fill out, sign, date and return each TPP tax return received.

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10. Do I still have to file the return if I have no assets to report? 

Yes. All businesses must file a TPP tax return. Even if you feel you do not have anything to report, fill out items 1 through 9 on the return, and attach an explanation of why nothing was reported. Be sure you sign and date the return before mailing it to our office. 

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11. Is there a minimum value that I do not have to report? 

No. A TPP tax return must be filed on all assets by April 1. If the taxes amount to less that $30.00, you will not receive a tax bill. 

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12. If I'm no longer in business, should I still file a return? 

Yes. If you were NOT in business on January 1 of any given year, you MUST file a final TPP return to close your account. On your final return, indicate the date you went out of business and the manner in which you disposed of your business assets (e.g., sold, disposed, or retained for personal use). Sign and date the final return and clearly write ''FINAL RETURN'' across the top of the form. Mail the signed and dated final return back to this office. 

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13. Do I have to report assets that I lease, loan, rent, borrow or are provided in the rent? 

Yes. There is an area on the return specifically for those assets. Even though the assets are assessed to the owner, they must be reported for informational purposes.

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14. If I rent my furnished home or condo for a few months, do I have to file a tangible personal property tax return? 

In Bay county , you must file a TPP tax return if you own and rent one or more rental units. 

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15. I am having difficulty meeting the April 1 deadline for filing my TPP tax return, can I file an extension? 

Yes. A 30-day extension request form is available on the Property Appraiser's website ONLY from January 1 through April 1 - the form will not be available after April 1. The completed form must be attached to the filed tax return to preclude or mitigate late filing penalties. 

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16. Are there deadlines and penalties? 

The deadline for filing a TPP return is April 1. After April 1, Florida Statues require that penalties be applied at 5% per month that the return is late. A maximum penalty of 25% is reached after the beginning of the fifth month. Additionally, Florida Statutes require a 15% penalty for property that is not reported. 

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17. If I buy or sell an existing business during the year, who is responsible for the taxes? 

The owner of the equipment on January 1 is responsible for filing a TPP tax return. The person(s) responsible for paying taxes should be addressed at the time of closing. A search for outstanding or back TPP taxes should also be made. Taxes always follow the equipment. You should consult your realtor, attorney, or closing agent to avoid problems in this area. 
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18. What is an office assessment? 

When a TPP tax return is not filed by April 1, we are required to place an assessment on the property. This assessment represents the typical value of a similar business. Receiving an office assessment because you did not file does not alleviate your responsibility to file an accurate return. 

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19. What if I don't agree with the assessed value that appears on the Truth in Millage (TRIM) notice of proposed property taxes that I receive in August of each year?

Call this office or come in and discuss the matter with us. We welcome the opportunity to review any evidence you can provide that suggests the appraised value is more than the actual fair market value of your property. If you still feel your assessment is too high after talking with us, you may file a petition to be heard at the Value Adjustment Board. 

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