Frequently Asked Questions
These are examples
of questions frequently asked. There are many individual circumstances
which can impact upon the appraisal and filing process. The Property Appraiser
welcomes your inquiries. This office is here to serve you and all residents
of Hamilton County to ensure fair and equitable appraisal of property.
What does the property
Does the property
appraiser levy or collect taxes?
How is property appraised?
What is market
Can I get a tax
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;
and most importantly, analyzes trends
in sales prices, construction costs, and rents to best estimate the value
of all assessable property.
Does the property appraiser levy or
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 in producing 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
How is property appraised?
At least once every three 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
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, and this is the sale comparison approach to value.
The Florida Constitution has
been 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 rate of inflation, whichever is lower. This limitation
does not include any change, addition or improvement to a homestead (excluding
normal maintenance or substantially equivalent replacement). During subsequent
years, any improvements will fall under the Constitutional limitation.
Two other methods are used
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
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
Any new exemption or change
in exemption status should be filed as soon as possible, but no later than
Besides Homestead, what other exemptions
are available under law?
Widow/ Widowers Exemption ($500)-
To file for Widow or Widower's
Exemption you must be a widow or widower prior to January 1st of the tax
year and bring proof of your spouse's death. (Divorced persons do not qualify
for this exemption.)
Disability Exemption ($500)-
In addition to proof of Florida
residency, you must provide one of the following:
Total exemption from ad valorem taxation
on homestead property for totally and permanently disabled-
Proof of total and permanent disability
from two  professional unrelated licensed Florida physicians, the U.S.
Proof of 10% or more war-time disability
from Veteran's Administration;
Present proof of legal blindness.
Section 196.101, F.S., provides
that property owners qualifying for the homestead exemption on January
1, who are quadriplegic, paraplegic, hemiplegic, or other totally and permanently
disabled persons, who must use a wheel chair for mobility, or are legally
blind and produce certification of that fact from two  professionally
unrelated licensed Florida physicians, or the U.S. Veteran's Administration,
shall be exempt from ad valorem taxation. Except for quadriplegics &
Veterans, there is also a gross income limitation for this exemption, governing
all persons residing upon the homestead, which is adjusted annually.
Section 196.081, F.S. , provides
that property owners qualifying for the homestead exemption on January
1, who are veterans honorably discharged with a service connected total
and permanent disability, shall be exempt from ad valorem taxation. Confirmation
of the disability from the U.S. Veteran's Administration is required for
this exemption. A surviving spouse could enjoy the benefit of this exemption
if the veteran was a permanent resident of Florida on January 1 of the
year he or she died.
When will I know the amount of my tax
Each August, the property appraiser
sends 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 less any
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
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
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
The property appraiser may
deny agricultural classification to the following lands:
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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 sub-division plat is
Land which is purchased for a price
three or more times the agricultural appraisal placed on the land.
Homestead Exemption Information
What do I need to do?
Where can I file?
do I need to bring with me?
When do I apply?
Do I have to
be a citizen to qualify?
What if the property
is in trust?
Can I get homestead
exemption on a mobile home?
Is there any appeal
if I miss the deadline for filing?
What do I need to do?
All persons seeking homestead exemption
must complete an original application (Form DR-501). The application must
be signed and filed in person.
Where can I file?
You can file at the property appraiser's
What information do I need to bring
The following information to establish
proof of residency for all owners who occupy the property must be presented
in-person at our office:
A recorded deed or tax bill in your
Social Security numbers for all owners.
Florida driver's license, if you drive
or if a non-driver, a declaration of domicile recorded prior to January
Florida auto tag registration, if you
Florida voter registration card, if
you are registered to vote.
If you do not possess these items,
please call the property appraiser for further information.
When do I apply?
The normal filing time for homestead
exemption begins on January 1 and lasts through March 1. All exemption
applications for that year must be filed by March 1.
Failure to apply on or before March
1, according to law, is a waiver of the exemption privilege for that year.
Do I have to be a citizen to qualify?
Citizenship is not required to file
for homestead exemption. An applicant who is not a U.S. citizen must present
a resident alien card (green card) when they apply.
What if the property is in trust?
In these cases, it is necessary for
the applicant to 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 homestead exemption on a mobile
Yes, you may if you own the land on
which the mobile home is located. When applying, you must bring in the
title or registration to the mobile home.
Is there any appeal if I miss the deadline
Yes. You must file an appeal with the
Value Adjustment Board and a late application for homestead exemption at
the property appraiser's office in person*.
The deadline for filing is set by law -- on or before the 25th day following
the mailing of the notice of proposed property taxes (T.R.I.M. notice).
This date usually falls in early September. You may call your property
appraiser's office to confirm the deadline date.
Approval or denial of the late application
is determined by the Value Adjustment Board. This panel will hear your
reasons for not filing in a timely manner and make a determination whether
or not your application can be approved for that tax year.
is a filing fee associated with the appeal.
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Amendment 10 "Save Our Homes" Value
WHAT is the Save Our
HOW does the
amendment limitation apply?
HOW is my property
WHAT about any
changes, additions or improvements to the homestead property?
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).
How is my property affected?
The year following the granting of homestead
exemption, the property is subject to 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.
What properties are not subject to the
Residences without homestead, non-residential
property, vacant land, tangible personal property, commercial property,
and agricultural property are not eligible for the amendment limitation.
Why would my assessment increase when
my market value stayed the same?
This is probably due to the "recapture"
rule. In 1995, the Department of Revenue adopted a rule, approved by the
Governor and Cabinet, directing property appraisers to raise the assessed
value of a qualifying homestead property by the maximum of 3% or the Consumer
Price Index, whichever is less, on all properties assessed at less than
full market value (just value).
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.
Tangible Personal Property
What is "tangible personal
Who must file a personal
Why do I have to
If I am no longer
in business, should I still file?
What if I
have old equipment that has been fully depreciated and written off the
Do I have to report
assets that I lease, loan, rent, borrow or are provided as part of the
Is there a minimum
value that I do not have to report?
What are the
deadlines and penalties for filing?
If I buy or sell
an existing business during the year, who is responsible for the taxes?
What is an "office"
or "field review" assessment?
What if I don't
agree with the assessed value that appears on my notice of proposed property
Helpful Hints And
What is "tangible personal property"?
Tangible personal property (TPP) is
defined in Section 192.001, F.S. as "all goods, chattels and other articles
of value (but does not include...vehicular items...) capable of manual
possession and whose chief value is intrinsic to the article itself." TPP
is everything other than real estate that has value by itself and includes
such things as furniture, fixtures, tools, machinery, household appliances,
signs, equipment, leasehold improvements, supplies, leased equipment and
any other equipment used in a business or to earn income. It does not include
motor vehicles, mobile homes, inventory, livestock, boats or airplanes.
Who must file a personal property return?
Anyone in possession of assets on January
1 who has either a proprietorship, partnership, corporation or is a self-employed
agent or contractor, must file each year. Property owners who lease, lend
or rent property must also file a return.
Why do I have to file?
Section 193.052, Florida Statutes, requires
that all tangible personal property be reported each year to the Property
Appraiser's office. Failure to submit receive a personal property tax return
the property appraiser does not relieve you of your obligation to file.
What If I have no assets to report?
Even if you feel you have nothing to
report, complete the return form, attach an explanation about why nothing
was reported, and file it with the property appraiser's office. Almost
all businesses and rental units have some assets to report, even if it
is only supplies, rented equipment, or household goods.
If I am no longer in business, should
I still file?
Yes. If you were in business on January
1 of the tax year, indicate the date you went out of business, the manner
in which you disposed of your business assets and the name and address
of the recipient of the assets on your return. If you still have the assets,
you must file on these items. Sign and date the return and file it with
the property appraiser's office.
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 in your possession should
Important Dates To Remember
January 1 to March 1
Date of assessment
Personal property returns due to property
Widow, widower and disability applications
taken for tangible mobile home improvements (You must reside on the property
as of January 1 of the tax year to qualify!)
Filing deadline for personal property
returns to avoid penalties
Notices of proposed property tax mailed
(also called "TRIM" or Truth in Millage)
Deadline to file Value Adjustment Board
Tax bills sent by the County Finance
Do I have to report assets that I lease,
loan, rent, borrow or are provided as part of 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 listed for informational purposes.
Is there a minimum value that I do not
have to report?
No. There is no minimum value. A personal
property tax return must be filed on all assets by April 1. However, if
the resulting property taxes amount to less than $5.00, you will not receive
a tax bill.
What are the deadlines and penalties
The deadline for filing a timely return
is April 1. After that date, state law provides that penalties be applied
at 5% per month or portion of a month that the return is late., up to a
maximum of 25% penalty when no return is filed.
If I buy or sell an existing business
during the year, who is responsible for the taxes?
The new owner is responsible. However,
if there is insufficient property to satisfy the taxes due, on January
1 the new owner will be responsible for the difference. Most title companies
do not do a search of the tangible assets of a business, therefore, you
should consult your broker, attorney or closing agent to insure your proper
What is an office or field review assessment?
When a tax return is not filed by April
1, the property appraiser is required to place an assessment on the property.
This assessment represents an estimate based upon the value of businesses
with similar equipment and assets. Being assessed does not alleviate you
of your responsibility to file an accurate return.
What if I don't agree with the assessed
value that appears on my notice of proposed property tax?
In mid-August, the owner of record will
receive a notice of proposed property tax covering TPP. If you disagree
with your assessment, call your property appraiser or go to the office
to discuss the matter. If you have evidence that the appraised value is
more than the actual fair market value of your property, the property appraiser
will welcome the opportunity to review all the pertinent facts. If you
do not agree after talking, then you may file a petition to have the matter
reviewed by the Value Adjustment Board, an independent reviewing authority.
Should you not agree with the VAB, then you may file suit to have the assessment
reviewed in court.
Helpful Hints And Suggestions
File the original return from this office
as soon as possible before April 1. Be sure to sign and date your return.
Work with your accountant or C.P.A.
to identify any equipment that may have been "physically removed." List
those items in the appropriate space on your return.
If you have an asset listing or depreciation
schedule that identifies each item of equipment, attach it to the completed
Do not use vague terms such as "various"
or "same as last year."
It is to your advantage to provide a
breakdown of assets since depreciation on each item may vary.
Please include your estimate of fair
market value and the original cost of the item on your return. These are
important considerations in determining an accurate assessment.
Look for additional information concerning
filing within the instructional section of the return itself.
If you sell your business, go out of
business, or move to a new location, please inform your property appraiser
office promptly. This helps to ensure timely, accurate records.
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