Why did my taxes increase?
The Property Appraiser does not determine taxes. Taxes are determined by each of the taxing authorities in the county based on their individual budgetary needs. This page will answer why your assessed value (not to be confused with Just/Market value-see below) may have increased since last year.
Your house is brand new
This means it was only assessed as vacant land last year, and this year the house itself and any appurtenances (pool, garage, patio, etc.) were added to the tax roll. Florida law assesses property based on the condition on January 1 each year, so if a house is not determined to be complete for its intended purpose on January 1, it will not appear on the tax roll for that year. There are no partial assessments in Florida.
You purchased your house last year
When property transfers, any exemptions and save-our-homes caps must be removed by law. All existing exemptions, caps, and discounts that are on the property from the previous owner will be removed and the assessed value will be returned to market value. Exemptions and caps belong to the seller, not the buyer. New buyers must apply for homestead exemptions. If you recently purchased a property or are in the process of purchasing a property, note that this may have a dramatic effect on future taxes. As the new owner, we encourage you to learn about exemptions and discounts available for which you may qualify. Exemptions would lower your taxable value, thereby reducing your property taxes. Applications may be completed and submitted online at at any time. To be eligible for a given year, you must own the property on January 1 and make application by March 1.
You have owned the home for years but just applied for a homestead exemption now that you are a full-time resident
When the character of the property changes from non-homestead to homestead (or vice-versa), the assessed value must be reset to market value on January 1 following the change.
Why didn’t anyone tell me this would happen?
They likely did. In a typical real estate transaction, there are many, many pages to sign. Buried in those pages should be a disclosure of ad valorem taxes. This should be provided at or before the execution of the contract to purchase (see Section 689.261, Florida Statutes). After the purchase, the Property Appraiser sends a sales questionnaire and letter to the buyer to invite you to participate with responses regarding your recent sales transaction. Your response helps our office to evaluate whether the sale price was representative of market value and can be relied upon in valuation. Our cover letter for this includes information about applying for exemptions.
What does Just, Assessed, and Taxable value mean?
Each property has three values associated with it:
Just Value (synonymous with Market value) is established through the appraisal process, as set out in Florida Law. This is the only value determined by the Property Appraiser.
Assessed Value is calculated by applying statutorily limited year-over-year increases of 10% OR, when an owner qualifies for a homestead exemption, no more than 3% (determined annually by the change in the Consumer Price Index).
Taxable Value is the Assessed value less any exemptions, such as the familiar homestead exemption, also as set out in Florida Law. This is the value used to calculate the tax bill.
OK, but why did my assessed value increase more than the cap limit?
If you had work done on your house last year, it will. The assessed value is calculated by subtracting any deleted structures from last year, multiplying the result by the cap amount, then adding any new changes, additions, or improvements on top of the capped amount. This, like everything else, is due to requirements of Florida Law.
You did not sell, but the ownership changed. In cases where multiple people own a property and some of them change, resetting a portion of a cap may apply. This could be true in cases where the type or ownership or marital status has changed.
You added additional land to your property. You combined an adjoining parcel with the one you have owned for a while. For homestead property, this land must come on at full market value, for non-homestead property it depends on when it was acquired, and if the property had a non-homestead assessment limitation that could survive the combine.
None of the above is true, but my taxes increased anyway. Why?
In the end, each taxing authority sets its budget for the year. They then divide the budget by the total taxable value in their district to arrive at the millage rate shown on your TRIM notice. The simple answer may be that the taxing authorities need more money to operate so they are charging higher taxes to property owners.
You may see new or increased non-ad valorem assessments. These are fees imposed by local levying authorities that are not value-based assessments but use some other adopted methodology. The Property Appraiser plays no role in determining these fees. Check your previous year's figures and rates against your current to see where changes may have occurred.