Florida's average effective property tax rate is 1.28%, although that amount varies greatly depending on the county.
Many Floridians pay their taxes through their mortgage, but for those who don’t, taxes are typically due between November 1 and March 3, depending on the county. Property owner’s should pay close attention to their due dates, because there are often early payment discounts of 1% to 4%.
Florida offers homestead and other exemptions which can provide a significant benefit to owners at their primary residence. The Save Our Homes amendment to the Florida constitution limits annual increases to assessed values by 3%. Additionally, some counties offer a Non-Homestead assessment limitation on properties not qualified for a homestead exemption that limits the increase of a real property assessment at 10% each year for non-school board assessed values.
Beyond savings through exemptions, property owners in Florida can save money on their property taxes by appealing them if there is evidence that the property has been inaccurately assessed.
How Property is Appraised in Florida
Each county in Florida appraises all properties within the county each year, using mass appraisal technology. This analysis of real estate market data assigns values to large swathes of properties at once.
Each property has a just value (market value), an assessed value, and a taxable value. The assessed value is the market value minus assessment limitations (read more about Save Our Homes in the How To Save Money section below). The taxable value is the result of market value minus the homestead cap (the assessed value), non-homestead cap, profitability and any exemptions. Properties often have more than one taxable value because certain exemptions and cap limitations do not apply to all taxing authorities. For example, the senior exemptions and Non-Homestead Caps do not apply to the School Board.
The taxable market value for each property is the value of a property on January 1st of each year. This is determined using the following methodologies:
- The Comparable Sales (Market) Approach compares similar properties by reviewing property sales in your area. Adjustments are made to account for some differences between the properties, such as square footage, lot size, and swimming pools.
- The Cost Approach considers how much it would cost, at current material and labor costs, to replace your property, taking into account any applicable depreciation.
- The Income Approach considers the income derived from income-producing properties such as rental homes. Specific facts evaluated are operating expenses, taxes, insurance, maintenance costs, the degree of financial risk taken in earning income from the property, and the return on the investment.
Property taxes in Florida are implemented in millage rates. A millage rate is one tenth of a percent, which equates to $1 in taxes for every $1,000 in home value. A number of different authorities, including counties, municipalities, school boards and special districts, can levy these taxes.
Property owners will receive an annual Truth in Millage (TRIM) notice in mid to late August each year, which states their property’s just or market value, and assessed value. You will be responsible for both ad valorem taxes, which are property taxes based on your property’s value, and any applicable non-ad valorem assessments, which are fees that may be added to your bill by levying authorities such as the Solid Waste Authority.
Note that millage rates and exemptions apply separately to school taxes and non-school taxes. You can get more information and a more detailed calculation worked out on the Florida Department of Revenue’s website.
If you believe that the appraised value on your property is inaccurate, including exceeding the current market value (what you could get if you sold your home on the open market), you can file an appeal to the county adjustment board. Note that property owners have only 25 days to file an appeal from the postmarked date of the TRIM notice.
How To Save Money on Property Taxes in Florida
The best way to reduce your property taxes is to file for all exemptions you qualify for.
The most popular exemption is the homestead exemption, which can be claimed by owners at their primary residence. The homestead exemption reduces the home’s assessed value by $25,000, and by another $25,000 from non-school related property taxes.
Homeowners who receive the homestead exemption also benefit from the Save Our Homes assessment limitation (cap), which caps increases in assessed value by 3% or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. So, even if you own a home in a quickly appreciating real estate market, your tax liability is limited (unless one of your local government bodies increases millage rates).
There are other property tax exemptions available in Florida for persons 65 and older, veterans, and persons with disabilities. In Florida, property owners age 65 or older can qualify for an additional homestead exemption deduction worth up to $50,000 if the property being taxed is the permanent residence and their income is no higher than $20,000 annually. The amount of the exemption is determined by the county commissioners office. Some counties also require that the property value does not exceed $250,000 and has been the preeminent place of residence for 25 years or more to qualify for the exemption.
Veterans exemptions in Florida operate differently than persons 65 and older exemptions. There are a few different exemptions that veterans and their families can use to get reductions on their property taxes. While active duty service members do not get specific property tax exemptions, they are able to use their homestead property as a rental property without forfeiting their homestead status. Military veterans who were honorably discharged, are a resident of Florida, and have a VA rated disability level of 10% or higher caused by injuries sustained during wartime can be eligible for a $5,000 reduction on the assessed value of their property. This exemption is not limited to homestead properties. Florida residents that are honorably discharged veterans with service-related total and permanent disability may be eligible for total exemption from ad valorem taxes on property they own and use as their homestead.
The state of Florida offers some of the largest property tax exemptions for people with disabilities in the United States. You can find out more about these exemptions on the Florida Department of Revenue website.
In some counties, all Florida properties have a 10% Non-Homestead Cap. This 10% cap ensures that even non-homesteaded properties assessment value can not increase by more than 10% of the previous year's assessed value, regardless of the property’s market value. Qualified non-homesteaded properties in applicable counties are granted this 10% cap automatically. However, this cap only applies to non-school board assessed values.
How To Appeal Property Taxes in Florida
Property owners who believe that their property may have been inaccurately assessed can contact the Property Appraiser’s office for an informal review or file a petition for adjustment/ appeal with the Value Adjustment Board (VAB) and have their case heard.
There may be a small fee in some counties for filing, around $15 in Palm Beach for example.
The VAB is an agency of the Clerk of Courts Office, which is independent of the Property Appraiser's Office. If an appeal is filed, the VAB will schedule a hearing at which the property owner will make their case for a value adjustment, to a Special Magistrate experienced in property appraisal techniques, and the Property Appraiser's Office will defend its assessment.
The deadline date for filing an appeal is shown at the bottom of the TRIM Notice which is mailed to property owners in August.
In Florida, the burden of proof for over assessment falls on the homeowner. Therefore it is up to you to convince the VAB that your property has been inaccurately assessed. Due to this, you (or your property tax consultant) are required to submit all documents that will be used to support your appeal to the Property Appraiser's Office 15 days prior to the scheduled VAB hearing. The property appraiser is also obligated to share any and all evidence they have with you. However, to receive this evidence you are required to submit a written request for this information. Upon submitting a written request, the appraiser is required to send you their evidence at least 7 days prior to the hearing.
Examples of evidence that can be used to support your case are:
- Sales comps
- Proof of damage or deferred maintenance
- Quotes for repairs that impact inhabitability of property
The typical hearing process starts with the VAB informing you of your scheduled hearing time and date. This occurs 25 days before the petition hearing. From there you will submit your evidence following the timeline covered in the previous paragraph and wait for the appraiser to send you their evidence packet. On your hearing date you and the appraiser will be provided with the opportunity to present your evidence to the VAB. The VAB prefers these hearings to follow a predetermined schedule so that both parties have equal amounts of time to present their case. Due to this, it’s important to make a clear and concise argument as to why your assessment is too high. This can be achieved by using strong and relevant supporting evidence.
After hearing both sides and reviewing the evidence, the Special Magistrate will give their written recommendation to the clerk. The clerk then has 20 days from the date of the hearing to notify you of the VAB’s final decision. In your decision notice you will receive the final decision on your appeal, an explanation of any changes that were made, and a list of considerations that factored into this decision including their legal reasoning. If you are displeased with the decision made by the VAB you can file a lawsuit in the circuit court.
Florida’s County Assessor Information
*All dates are as specified or within 25 days of the postmarked date on the Proposed Property Tax notice.
Accurate as of May 26, 2022
St. Johns: https://sjctax.us/downloads/MILLAGESHEET.pdf
Palm Beach: https://www.pbcgov.org/papa/tax-roll.htm