Saturday, June 21, 2008

Property Tax Appeal Results: The Bottom Line

One of my favorite marketing slogans is the one created by my good friend Mark E. Fried. Mark Fried has been an immigration attorney on Brickell Avenue in Miami for more than 27 years. To emphasize Mark's sensitivity to the human interest aspect of his practice, Mark says, "In my practice, it's not the 'bottom line' that counts; it's the BORDER LINE!"

Well and good. One of the reasons I enjoy my property tax practice--and would never engage in the practice of immigration law or criminal defense (the practice area of my law partner Brian Tannebaum)--is that I'd never want a client's freedom to depend on effectiveness of my representation. So I am happy to say that in my property tax practice, "It's not the BORDER LINE that counts; it's the BOTTOM LINE."

That's what counts for the client anyway. Do I get a kick out of figuring out where the County Property Appraiser went astray and getting a huge reduction and generating a big refund for the taxpayer? You bet. But is the taxpayer excited about my legal theory? Probably not as excited as he is about the big refund.

Here's a case in point. I got a tax assessment on a parking lot parcel reduced for 2007 (the current tax year) from $6,458,800 to $947,298. Yeah, that's right, an 85% reduction. It's not a typo.

The taxpayer's happy. He's the beneficiary of a $100,000 plus property tax refund.

I'm happy because I proved that the Property Appraiser assessed sticks in the bundle of rights already assessed to other parcels, a prohibited form of double taxation.

I was even happier this afternoon when I had confirmed in writing the granting of my post-hearing request to further reduce the assessed valuation by another $100,000. This means the reduction was 87%, not 85%.

So with apologies to my good friend Mark Fried--as fine an immigration attorney as you will ever want to find to address your family's, employees', friends' or corporation's immigration practice needs--I am proud to say that in my property tax appeal practice, "It's not the border line that counts. It's the bottom line."
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.

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