Frequently Asked Questions
What does the Property Appraiser do? The   Gulf   County   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.   Finding   the   "market"   value   of   your   property   means   discovering   the   price   a   willing Buyer   would   pay   for   your   property.   Determining   a   fair   and   equitable   value   is   the   only   role   of   this   office   in   the taxing process. The   property   appraiser   does   not    create   the   value.   People   create   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 assessable property. Why Tax Property? Gulf   County   property   taxes   provide   the   funds   so   our   local   governments   can   provide   needed   services   - like   educating   our   children   and   protecting   us   from   crime.   Without   property   taxes   many   of   the   services provided by local government would not be available. The   property   appraiser   is   not    responsible   for   the   amount   of   taxes   collected.   The   property   appraiser's primary   responsibility   is   to   determine   the   fair   market   value   of   your   property,   so   that   you   will   pay   only your fair and equitable share. The value of your property is only one part of the equation. Who decides how much I owe? The   tax   rate   (millage)   is   set   by   the   various   taxing   authorities   within   which   your   property   is   located. These   authorities   -   including   the   county,   cities,   school   board,   and   special   districts   -   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   appraised   value of   the   non-exempt   property   within   the   taxing   district.   The   amount   of   taxes   you   owe   is   determined   by applying the millage rate to your property's taxable value. Why do my property taxes change? Both   your   property's   taxable   value   and   your   taxing   authority's   millage   rate   affect   your   annual   property   tax   bill. Generally,   if   your   property   taxes   go   up,   it   means   either   your   authority's   budget   increased,   your   property's value   increased,   or   both.   If   your   property   taxes   go   down,   either   the   budget   was   reduced,   your   property's   value decreased, or both. Can I get a Tax Exemption? In   addition   to   determining   values,   the   Property   Appraiser   accepts   applications   for   and   administers   property tax exemptions. Several   types   of   exemptions   are   available.   The   type   of   exemption   benefiting   the   largest   number   of   property- owners   is   the   homestead   exemption.   If   you   own   property   which   you   use   as   your   primary   residence   as   of January   1,   you   may   apply   for   homestead   exemption.   This   will   reduce   the   taxable   value   of   your   home   by $25,000, resulting in substantial savings on your property taxes. Other   types   of   exemptions   include:   religious,   charitable,   educational,   low   income   senior,   veteran   disability, widow,   widower,   blind   and   permanently   disabled.   Any   new   exemption   or   change   in   exemption   status   should be filed between January 1st and March 1st of each year. When do I get my Tax Bill? In   August   of   each   year,   the   Gulf   County   Property   Appraiser   sends   a   Notice   of   Proposed   Property   Taxes,   which is   sometimes   called   a   Truth   in   Millage   (TRIM)   notice,   to   all   property   owners   as   required   by   law.   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   just   value   or   market   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.   The   final   tax   notices,   as   prescribed   by   law,   will   be mailed   by   the   Gulf   County   Tax   Collector   Shirley   Jenkins   on   or   before   November   1 st .   Following   that   date   they should also be available on line from the Tax Collector’s website Property Value too High? If   you   think   the   market   value   shown   on   your   TRIM   Notice   is   not   correct,   you   are   encouraged   to   contact   the Gulf    County    Property    Appraiser's    Office    to    speak    with    an    appraiser.    The    appraiser    can    show    you    the information which was used to determine your property's value. It   is   the   responsibility   of   the   Property   Appraiser   to   determine   that   your   property   is   appraised   correctly   and equitably   -   not   to   keep   increasing   property   value.   Our   goal   is   to   be   fair   and   accurate   using   the   most   current resources and considering those forces which impact property values in your neighborhood. You   should   make   an   appointment   to   meet   with   one   of   our   appraisers   and   review   the   information   we   have about   your   property.   If   you   still   think   the   value   is   incorrect,   after   meeting   with   one   of   our   appraisers,   you   have the right to file a petition with the Value Adjustment Board (VAB). Petition   forms   are   available   for   download   or   from   our   office.   Petitions   must   be   filed   25   days   after   the   mailing date of the TRIM Notice in order for your complaint to be heard by the Value Adjustment Board (VAB). What is Save Our Homes ? The   Gulf   County   Property   Appraiser   is   charged   with   the   responsibility   of   assessing   all   property   within   Gulf County   fairly   and   equitably   according   to   Florida   law.   This   office   does   not   set   tax   rates   or   determine   the amount   of   taxes   you   pay.   That   is   the   responsibility   of   the   various   taxing   authorities   such   as   city   and   county commissions, the local school board and others. Effective   January   1,   1995,   the   annual   increase   in   value   for   residential   property   with   a   homestead   exemption   is limited   by   constitutional   amendment   approved   by   the   voters.   State   laws   and   regulations   have   been   put   into force to implement this limit. The   Save   Our   Homes   Amendment ,   (sometimes   referred   to   as   Amendment   10 )   became   effective   January   1,   1995 as an amendment to the Florida Constitution. It   was   voted   upon   and   passed   by   a   Florida   citizen’s   initiative   on   November   3,   1992.   The   amendment   stated that   the   annual   assessment   of   homestead   property   shall   not   exceed   the   lower   of   either   three   percent   (3%)   of the assessment for the prior year or the percent increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). This   amendment   does   not   apply   to   non-homestead   property    (such   as   residences   without   homestead,   vacant land,   or   non-residential   property),   agricultural,   tangible   personal   property   as   well   as   homestead   property   that has sold or otherwise been conveyed to a new owner during the calendar year. What properties are not subject to Save Our Homes? Only homestead property that remains under the same ownership during the calendar year qualifies for the limitation. A buyer purchasing after January 1st shall inherit the benefit of the seller’s homestead for the current year. This results in a tax bill not too different from the previous year. However, when the property is reassessed on January 1 st  of the year following the purchase, and the tax bill arrives in November of that year, the Save Our Homes Cap has been removed and the new owner may see a change from what the previous owner paid. How do I qualify for the benefit of Save Our Homes ? The    new    owner(s)    MUST    apply    for    homestead    exemption.    If    the    new    owner    applies    for    and    receives homestead   exemption,   then   the   new   owner’s   Save   Our   Homes    Cap   on   increases   will   commence   for   the   year following the homestead exemption approval. What happens if the property is sold? When   the   property   is   sold   it   causes   the   Save   Our   Homes    Cap   to   be   removed   and   as   of   January   1 st    following   the date of transfer to new ownership a reassessment will occur. What happens if I add or subtract names on my deed? A   change   in   title   could   cause   the   Save   Our   Homes    Cap   to   be   removed   and   as   of   January   1 st    following   the   date of   the   transfer   a   reassessment   will   occur   in   the   following   November   bill.   You   must   re-apply   for   homestead   if you   change   the   deed.   Parents   who   add   their   children   to   the   title   of   real   property   in   an   effort   to   avoid   probate might   experience   an   increase   in   property   tax.   Contact   your   attorney   for   the   proper   wording   for   the   new   deed to assure the continuation of the homestead and Save Our Homes  Cap. What about any improvements or additions to the property? The   full   market   value   of   physical   alterations   to   the   property   such   as   additions   or   improvements   (not   including normal   maintenance)   will   be   added   to   the   property’s   assessment   after   the   Save   Our   Homes    Cap   has   been applied to the qualifying homestead property. If you have further questions regarding Save Our Homes  call 850.229.6115. PORTABILITY What exactly is "portability"? Portability is the ability to transfer the savings benefit of the homestead property assessment limitation (defined in FS 193.155), this is known as "Save Our Homes" (SOH) and described as the dollar value difference between market value and assessed value, or the percentage from one existing homestead to another new homestead property. When do I apply for "portability"? You should apply for portability when you are applying for homestead exemption.  You do this by filling out a  DR-501T. This is an additional application to be filed along with the homestead exemption application. If you have already applied for the homestead exemption, you can submit the completed application to the Property Appraiser. If moving from another Florida county the form will be sent to the Property Appraiser of your previous homestead for verification upon submission. Your previous Property Appraiser will issue a DR-501R and return the form to your new Property Appraiser for calculation of your portability benefit. What is the formula used to determine the amount available for "portability"? If you are up sizing (buying home with higher just market value than previous home) please refer to the following example Previous Home Valued @ $600,000 and Assessed @ $300,000 (SOH Value) $600,000 - $300,000 = $300,000 (Portable Amount) New Home Valued @ $700,000 - $300,000 (Portable Amount) = $400,000 (New Assessed Value for New Home) If you are downsizing (buying home with lower just market value than previous home) please refer to the following example Existing Home Valued @ $600,000 and Assessed @ $300,000 (SOH Value); $300,000 divided by $600,000 = .50% (% eligible to "port" to new property) New Home Valued @ $400,000 x .50% (% eligible to "port") = $200,000 (Assessed Value of New Homestead) If I sold my property in 2 years can I qualify for "portability"? Yes, but the law only allows up to 2 years to use the portability. If I owned property with another owner and they still live in my previous home can I apply for "portability"? The law requires the previous exemption be forfeited before you can "port" any portion of the assessment cap benefit. Meaning, the remaining owner may not receive the full benefit and must re-apply. The "port" would be a portion of the savings dependent on how many owners were on the deed. Do I have to purchase a new property to be eligible for the portability benefit? No, if you already own another property (2 nd  home, beach house, etc.) and establish your homestead at that address with required documentation for the new tax year - you can relocate the homestead from the old property and apply for the portability benefit on the newly established homestead. Can I also apply for additional if I use "portability"? Yes, "portability" refers to adjusting the assessed value of the new homestead property; you may still apply for any additional exemptions that you may be eligible. What is the maximum SOH savings benefit I can "port" to my new property? The maximum amount you can port is $500,000. I owned a property with my ex-husband/wife. I was awarded the house in the divorce. I sold it and purchased a new home that I will now homestead. If my ex-husband/wife also purchased a new home that they will homestead. Since I was awarded the house in the divorce is my ex-husband/wife eligible to apply for any of the portability? The new legislation requires that the portability amount be divided equally among the recipients (owners) of the homestead exemption. All parties on the deed to the property where the portable savings resides must "abandon" the homestead prior to the "portable amount" being available to any of the parties. I own a property that has multiple people receiving the homestead all at different percentages. If we sell and apply for portability, how will the portability amount be split or divided between our new homesteads? The new legislation requires that the portability amount be divided equally between the new homesteads. Can I "port" a savings from another state? No, portability applies only if you had a State of Florida homestead exemption. How many times in the same year can I use portability? Only one time.  Since a homestead exemption is required in order to transfer a portable benefit, you must reside in the new home on or before January 1 of a that year. If you sold your home in 2008 and established a new homestead on or before 1/1/2009, you could technically "port" your savings again for the 2009 homestead. I owned a property with another person. I moved and established another homestead; however, they still live in the original property. Can I transfer or "port" my SOH benefit to my new homestead? No, the law requires the previous exemption be "abandoned" before you can port any of the Save Our Homes benefit. Meaning, another person can’t still be receiving the old exemption. ADDITIONAL $25,000 HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION Will I save as much on the additional $25,000 homestead exemption as I did on my existing $25,000 homestead exemption? No, due to the school tax levy not being part of this additional exemption you will not; the additional exemption is calculated using the millage rates minus the school tax levy. How is this additional exemption calculated? If your property is assessed at $50,000 or less your homestead exemption will remain the same amount as your current homestead exemption; however, properties assessed from $50,001 – $74,999 will receive an increase proportionately up to $24,999 and any property assessed over $75,000 will receive the full additional $25,000 homestead. Must I file another application to qualify for the additional $25,000 homestead exemption? No, the additional $25,000 homestead exemption is automatic and will be calculated based on your assessment if you already have a homestead exemption. How does this calculation affect my other additional exemptions such as widow/widowers, disability, or senior exemption? It will not affect your other exemptions in any way; however the additional exemption will not be applied to the school tax levy portion of the millage rate. 10% CAP FOR NON-HOMESTEAD PROPERTIES How to do I apply for the 10% cap for non-homestead assessment on my properties? No need to apply because the cap is automatic on non-homestead properties. May I apply for this exemption on my homestead property? No, this exemption is only available for "non-homestead" properties. Will the 10% cap reduce my taxes after I purchase my property? No, your property may increase to meet the market value in the first year. The 10% cap will cap the assessment from increasing more than 10% the year following purchase. Does the 10% cap apply to all taxing authority millage rates? The 10% cap will apply to all millage rates except for school tax levies. $25,000 TPP EXEMPTION When must I file my return to receive the $25,000 Tangible Personal Property exemption? The return must be filed by April 1 st - of the tax year in order to receive the exemption (or within the applicable application deadline extension period). Since my Tangible Personal Property value was less than $25,000, do I have to continue to file a Tangible Personal Property return? Yes, your Tangible Personal Property return serves as an application and must be filed in order to qualify for this new exemption. What if I don’t file a return? Failure to file a return constitutes a failure to apply for the exemption. If I have multiple locations for my business, am I required to file separately? Yes, a return must be filed for each location within the county where the owner transacts business. Freestanding property placed at multiple sites, other than where the owner transacts business, must have a single return filed and will receive one $25,000 exemption (examples: vending and amusement machines, LP/propane tanks, utility and cable company property, billboards, and leased equipment.) Does this exemption apply to mobile homes that are assessed as Tangible Personal Property? This new exemption does not apply to mobile homes assessed as Tangible Personal Property. Will I be required in future years to file? If in subsequent years the taxable value on the Tangible Personal Property exceeds the $25,000 exemption, then the property owner would be required to file a return.
Gulf County Property Appraiser
Mitch Burke, CFA