Monday, September 03, 2007

Tips and Information on Filing Property Tax Appeals Before September 2007 Deadline

Florida property taxpayers face annual property tax appeal filing deadlines. After a tumultuous legislative special session Florida property taxpayers are turning their attention to appealing their annual property tax evaluations. Confusion reigns because while tax bills may be lower, valuations have risen an average of 15 percent. Tax appeal filing deadlines vary from county to county, but all appeals must be filed within 25 days of mailing of notices of proposed taxes. published on Auguest 31, 2007, dateline Miami, Florida, the following press release.

Miami, Florida (PRWEB) August 31, 2007 -- Florida property tax attorney Daniel Weiss offers the following tips and information to residents and business owners about the upcoming deadline for filing property tax appeals in Florida.

25 day filing period -- Weiss cautions taxpayers that all 2007 property tax appeals must be filed with 25 days of the mailing of notices of proposed taxes.

Since this is one of the shortest statutes of limitations imaginable, Florida property taxpayers are advised to exercise their right of appeal swiftly. The 25 days starts to run on the date of mailing of the notice of proposed taxes. No extensions are authorized by statute.

Each of Florida's 67 counties decides when in August to mail taxpayers their notices of proposed property taxes (TRIM -- "Truth In Millage" -- notices). By state law, however, the deadline for filing valuation appeals expires 25 days from the mailing of the TRIM notice.

Filing deadlines may be as early as the first week of September or as late as the last week of September. By state law, each taxpayer's notice of proposed taxes shows the filing deadline at the bottom.

Only valuations -- and not tax bills -- are subject to appeal. Typically, taxpayers look at the "bottom line" and react based on the projected dollar amount of taxes. After a legislative rollback of local government revenues adopted in 2007, many property tax bills in Florida will be lower than 2006. Valuations, however, are an average of 15 percent higher.

This means that even lower-than-usual taxes may be based on higher-than-ever valuations. So remember to determine whether to appeal based on the valuation -- not the dollar amount of taxes to be paid. Be like the commercial taxpayers who are savvy enough to understand that even if their tax bills are lower for 2007, there is still an opportunity to seek to have them reduced even more.

January 1 is the date of assessment in Florida, as it is in many other states. This means that it is the county's responsibility to ascertain the valuation of all properties as of the first of the year. So if you still had Wilma or Katrina hurricane damage unrepaired as of January 1, 2007, and the Property Appraiser (formerly called the tax assessor) did not take it into account, this failure can be the basis of a successful appeal.

Annual appeal as business strategy -- Many commercial property owners make it part of their annual business plan to appeal all property taxes. It's an easy decision, because most property tax consultants offer their services on a contingency basis. Then, if there's no tax reduction, no fee is due.

Many property tax professionals will review assessments at an initial consultation without charge. Take advantage of this opportunity. Interview more than one before you sign a retainer.

Some property owners prefer to retain a property tax consultant who is also an attorney to represent their interests in property tax appeals. This preference assumes that attorneys are better at spotting legal issues and formulating legal arguments. These include the impact of zoning and comprehensive planning regulations on property tax assessments, as well as superior understanding of procedures and exemption and special classification statutes which confer benefits for agricultural use or historic properties.

Other property owners prefer to work with real estate brokers or agents familiar with comparable sales and income and expense ratios in local markets.

If you're not sure whom to retain, do some research online.

The Florida Department of Revenue provides a list of all 67 county Property Appraisers: Contact the local County Property Appraiser to ascertain the date of mailing of the notice of proposed taxes or to request a duplicate of any notice not received.

But don't delay. The tax appeal time clock is ticking.

Daniel A. Weiss has over 26 years experience as a Florida property tax attorney. Weiss was named by the 2007 South Florida Legal Guide as one of the top lawyers in the practice areas of both Real Estate - Land Use, Zoning & Environmental and Real Estate - Commercial.
Property Tax Appeals

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Mr. Weiss has represented taxpayers in thousands of administrative tax appeal hearings and has more than 70 published opinions to his credit, including 55 property tax opinions, is co-author of Chapter 64 of the Florida Tax Service 2d, "Agriculture and Other Classified Properties" with Matthew Bender, and a lecturer on property taxation for the National Business Institute.