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 1st. 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 1st 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 1st 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 1st 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 (2nd 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 1st - 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
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