Jason Whistler
Property Appraiser

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  • Frequently Asked Questions

    Appraisal Questions

    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).

    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 ($25,000).
    • Widow/Widow Exemption ($5000).
    • Total and Permanent Disability Exemption (exempt from all taxation).
    • Total and Permanent Service Connected Disability Exemption (exempt from all taxation).
    • Veterans Disability Exemption ($5000).
    • Blind Exemption ($5000).
    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.

    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 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 2006, you will get the benefit of the previous owner's homestead exemption until December 31, 2006. For 2007, you must file an original homestead exemption application by March 1, 2007.

    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.

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    Amendment 10 "Save Our Homes" Value Cap

    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 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 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

    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 receive a personal property tax form from 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 be reported.

    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 for filing? 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 protection.

    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.

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    About Townships and Ranges

    Most property in Florida is described in blocks containing 36 square mile sections. These blocks are called "townships". Levy County contains more than 40 whole or partial townships.(See typical Section Map)

    Each township is described by a north or south "township number" and an east or west "range number". These numbers originate at specific point near downtown Tallahassee in north Florida.

    Because of Levy's proximity to the state origination marker, all of our "township numbers" are south (as in "township 12 south") and all of our "range numbers" are east (as in "range 14 east").

    The Section, Township and Range can be found in the Legal Description.

    Refer to the following Levy County Township map for geographical reference.

    Filing for exemption online
    Search for your account (CLICK HERE) either by name, parcel number, or address. Once your account is pulled up, click on the Homestead application button and follow the instructions. Please be sure to upload all of the required documents when completing the application

    Click Map to enlarge

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    © 2011 by The Levy County Property Appraiser's Office