Thread: property tax appeals
property tax appeals
By David Magliano
It’s difficult to win any game if you don’t know the rules, which may be why property tax appeals are a decisively one-sided affair.
“People don’t understand how their property is assessed,” said Cindy Meadows, chairperson of Walton County’s Value Assessment Board. The board hears appeals from property owners who feel their property has been overvalued by the county appraiser.
Property taxes are calculated by taking a percentage of the value of the property. The higher a property is worth, the higher the tax bill is going to be, thus property owners often want the lowest assessed value possible.
When they do not agree with the assessment, they can appeal the decision, but these decisions are rarely overturned. Meadows feels one reason is because property owners simply do not understand what they need to do to win.
“[They don’t understand] what rights they have, what the state statutes say, what the appeal process is and what evidence they have to provide,” said Meadows, whose board denied every property value appeal made at the Oct. 25 meeting.
People looking to have their assessments changed brought plenty of evidence that day, just not the right kind of evidence.
With many properties losing value this year, property owners feel they are paying taxes on a value that does not refl ect the current market. They present this information at the appeals hearing, showing 2006 sale prices, and quickly learn the truth.
It doesn’t matter.
“The taxes are based on comparable sales in 2005, not 2006,” Meadows said, in one way or another, to every petitioner.
The 2006 value of a piece of property is determined by the sales of comparable properties in 2005, such as neighboring and nearby parcels. The property appraiser does not take into account 2006 prices.
One person presenting an appeal, who wished to remain anonymous, said the reason people do not know the best way to present their case is a lack of communication of the rules between the property appraiser, the property owners, and the Value Adjustment Board.
“It wouldn’t hurt if we had perhaps an information day or some kind of communication with folks who are interested in how this works,” said Meadows, “but I think a lot of the onus is on the property owner to become involved and knowledgeable about how taxes are assessed and what the appeals process is.”
Ronald Romano of Beach Group Properties, who was part of two appeals cases, said the fi rst flaw is in the assessment system.
The property appraiser treats a sale in the beginning of the year the same as a sale at the end of the year. Romano, as well as others presenting appeals, feel that end of the year sales, those closer to 2006, should carry more weight in determining present value.
Many appeals hinged on this point, but the board can only follow the same laws as the property appraiser, treating all sales the same. With no power to make exceptions, Romano feels the entire process is pointless
The meetings are emotionally difficult for some property owners, many of which are currently facing large investment losses due to a lack of buyers. One owner is only receiving offers at a quarter of his 2004 purchase price. Another estimates that her losses on three properties will total $1 million.
They look to the Value Adjustment Board as one outlet to lighten their fi nancial burden, but they will receive a reprieve only if they win their cases. Without a better understanding of the rules, they usually do not.
“You’re looking at some people who have invested a lot of money in the market,” said Meadows. “The market has dropped, and we’d like to say ‘Let’s just drop [the property values],’ but we have to follow the guidelines.”
10-29-2006, 01:44 PM #2
Re: property tax appeals
The Florida Save Our Homes Tax program has been around for 15 (Fifteen!) years....so why, THIS YEAR....after 15 years (and I checked--they sold houses during that time) has this suddenly become a major issue??
Last edited by SHELLY; 10-29-2006 at 01:52 PM.But hey...Top Ramen tastes a whole lot better when you eat it off of a Granite Countertop. (Mr & Mrs Too Much Homebuyer)
09-07-2009, 08:40 AM #3
Walton County Tax Appeal Process
It looks like it's been some time since someone last posted on this thread but, I am curious if any of you Walton Co. residents have been through this tax appeal process? I know it's a heavily one-sided reality but, I feel the need to appeal. My questions/what I know:
- Of those planning to appeal this year (in 2009), what tips can you share? Are you hiring Legal help with this and is it worth it assuming you've been through it before?
- They only look at comp sales in 2008, right?
- What if a neighborhood clearly has two, distinct "classes" (meaning size, fit/finish, etc.) of single family dwellings but the County has said they (I spoke to them) lump them all together as is the case in WaterSound Beach. Is there an argument here?
- Does the County in fact look at subdivisions outside of WaterSound Beach for comps when determining property value?
- When filing the appeal paperwork, what data should you include? What should you not?
- Of those who have been through this appeal process before, what data/info would you have wished you had at the appeal hearing that you didn't?
Anything else you can share would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
09-07-2009, 10:51 PM #4
- Join Date
- Apr 2005
- Nashville & Seagrove
Recommend that you call them (number is on the latest statement) and start by discussing your questions.....I just went thru this Friday......and got a bit of a reduction based on them thinking we had something on the property that we didn't have. Invited them to come look at it....but they took my word.....your situation is definitely different, but would at least give them a call first to discuss and you can hopefully get a better feel for how to proceed. They could not have been nicer or more helpful.30A Forever!! PK
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