Ad Valorem Property Tax Assessments
Ad valorem taxes on real property are collected on an annual basis beginning on November 1 for the tax year January through December. Florida Statute 197.122(1) provides:
“All owners of property shall be held to know that taxes are due and payable annually and are charged with the duty of ascertaining the amount of current and delinquent taxes and paying them before April 1 of the year following the year in which taxes are assessed.”
The Office of Property Appraiser establishes the value of the property, and the Board of County Commissioners and other levying bodies set the millage rates. Using these values and allowing for exemptions, the tax roll is completed by the property appraiser. The tax roll is then certified to the tax collector, who prints and mails the tax notice to the owner’s last recorded address as it appears on the tax roll, the owner being the owner as of January 1 of the tax year; however, IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF EACH PROPERTY OWNER TO SEE THAT HIS TAXES ARE PAID AND THAT HE DOES INDEED RECEIVE A TAX BILL. In the case where the property owner pays his taxes through an escrow account, the mortgage company will request and be sent the tax bill, and the owner will receive a copy of the bill. It is the responsibility of the mortgage company to pay within the 4% discount period. Tax statements normally are mailed out November 1 of each year with the following discounts for early payment:
4% in November
3% in December
2% in January
1% in February
Gross amount in March
TAXES BECOME DELINQUENT APRIL 1 OF EACH YEAR, AT WHICH TIME A 3% PENALTY (REAL ESTATE) OR A 1½% PENALTY (TANGIBLE) IS ADDED TO THE BILL. ADVERTISING COSTS ARE ADDED BEGINNING MAY 1.
Unpaid real estate taxes become delinquent on April 1 each year. A 3% penalty will be assessed at this time. During the month of May, the tax collector is required by Florida Statute to advertise the delinquent properties in a local newspaper once a week for three consecutive weeks. The cost of this advertising is added to the tax notice May 1.
Beginning on or before June 1, the tax collector is required by law to hold a tax certificate sale. These certificates represent liens on all unpaid real estate properties and are sold so that the various taxing authorities will receive those funds that are encumbered by their fiscal budgets for that year. The tax certificate sale is open to all bidders, and the certificates are sold in a reverse auction style with participants bidding downward on interest rates starting at 18%. The certificate is issued to the lowest bidder.
A tax certificate, when purchased, becomes an enforceable first lien against the real estate. The certificate holder is actually paying the taxes for a property owner in exchange for a competitive bid rate of interest on his investment. In order to remove the lien and cancel the certificate, the property owner must pay cash or certified funds to the tax collector on all the delinquent taxes plus accrued interest, penalties, and costs associated with the certificate. The tax collector then notifies the certificate holder and issues a check for his/her investment, thereby canceling the lien and certificate.
Tax Deed Application
A tax certificate is valid for a period of seven years from the date of issuance. The holder of the certificate may apply for a tax deed when two or more years have elapsed from the date of delinquency of the tax year for which the certificate was issued. If the property owner fails to pay the total taxes and costs due, a tax deed will be sold at public auction, and title to the property will transfer at that time. All certificate holders desiring to file a tax deed application must do so online at www.realtda.com.
If you live in your home on January 1 of each year, you are entitled to apply to receive the Homestead Exemption. You must initially apply with the property appraiser. Your initial application must be made by March 1 of the assessment year. You may prefile for exemptions (not based on income) for the forthcoming year beginning March 1. A person may have only one permanent residence at a time.
The regular Homestead Exemption is $25,000 and reduces taxable value from all of the taxing authorities. Due to the passage of Amendment 1 on January 29, 2008, there is an additional Homestead Exemption allowing for an extra $25,000 depending on assessed value. This additional Homestead Exemption does not apply to the School Board taxing authority. If you have applied for regular Homestead Exemption, this additional exemption automatically applies. A property owner does not have to take any other action to receive the additional Homestead Exemption if his regular Homestead Exemption application is on file with the property appraiser.
Senior Homestead Exemption
If you have the regular Homestead Exemption, are age 65 or older, and you meet certain income criteria, you may qualify for an additional Senior Homestead Exemption. For the County, this exemption is up to $50,000; for the City, the exemption amount is up to $25,000, depending on eligibility criteria and assessed value. This exemption applies ONLY to county and/or city taxes. To determine qualification for this exemption, contact the property appraiser.
Exemptions and special classifications in Escambia County:
- Regular Homestead Exemption
- Additional Homestead Exemption
- Over 65 [Senior] Homestead Exemption
- Widow/Widower Exemption
- Medical Disability Exemption
- Veteran Partial Disability Exemption
- Total Disability Exemption
- Veteran’s Total Disability Exemption
- Veteran’s Discount
- Military Homestead Exemption
- Assessment Reduction for Living Quarters of Parents or Grandparents
- Tangible Personal Property Exemption
- Assessment Limitation on Non-homestead Properties
- Save Our Homes
- Portability of Save Our Homes Benefit
- Wholly and Economic Development Exemption
- Agricultural Classification
Contact the property appraiser for information on exemptions and eligibility requirements.
Amendment 1 was approved by the electors on January 29, 2008 and is now part of the Florida Statutes. It covered the measures detailed below.
What is the additional Homestead Exemption benefit?
Section 196.031(1) increases the Homestead Exemption by exempting the assessed value between $50,000 and $75,000. This exemption does not apply to School District taxes and takes effect for the 2008 tax roll.
What is portability?
Section 193.155 provides for the transfer of accumulated Save-Our-Homes benefits. Homestead property owners will be able to transfer their Save-Our-Homes benefit to a new homestead within one year and not more than two years after relinquishing their previous homestead. If the new homestead is established on January 1, 2008, the previous homestead must have been relinquished in 2007. If the new homestead has a higher just value than the previous one, the accumulated benefit can be transferred; if the new homestead has a lower just value, the amount of benefit transferred will be reduced. The transferred benefit may not exceed $500,000. This provision applies to all taxes and takes effect for the 2008 tax roll.
Explain the tangible personal property exemption.
Section 196.183 authorizes an exemption from property taxes of $25,000 of assessed value of tangible personal property. Tangible property is defined as property used in a business. This provision applies to all taxes and takes effect for the 2008 tax roll. In order to qualify, a timely and accurate tangible personal property tax return must be filed with the property appraiser by April 1 of the assessment year.
Explain capping or assessment limitation on non-homestead properties.
Sections 193.1554 and 193.1555 limit the assessment increases for specified non-homestead real property to 10 percent each year. Property will be assessed at just value following an improvement, as defined by general law, and may be assessed at just value following a change of ownership or control as provided by general law. This limitation is repealed effective January 1, 2019, unless renewed by a vote of the electors in the general election held in 2018. This limitation does not apply to School District taxes and takes effect for the 2009 tax roll.
Further, Amendment 1:
- Repeals obsolete language on the Homestead Exemption when it was less than $25,000 and did not apply uniformly to property taxes levied by all local governments.
- Provides for Homestead Exemptions to be repealed if a future constitutional amendment provides for assessment of homesteads “at less than just value” rather than as currently provided “at a specified percentage” of just value.