DUTIES OF THE SCPA:


The Seminole County Property Appraiser is responsible for identifying, locating, and fairly valuing all property, both real and personal, within the county for tax purposes. The "market" value of real property is based on the current real estate market. Finding the "market" value of your property means discovering the price most people would pay for your property. Determining a fair and equitable value is the only role of this office in the taxing process.
The property appraiser does not create the value. People make the value by buying and selling real estate in the market place. The property appraiser has the legal responsibility to study those transactions and appraise your property accordingly.

The property appraiser also tracks:

  • Ownership changes,
  • Maintains maps of parcel boundaries.
  • Keeps descriptions of buildings and property characteristics up to date.
  • Accepts and approves applications from individuals eligible for exemptions and other forms of property tax relief.
  • Analyzes trends in sales prices, construction costs, and rents to best estimate the value of assessable property.

All this must be done economically - for less than a tenth of what it would cost you to hire someone to independently appraise your property. In fact, the Seminole County Property Appraiser's Office has a state-of-the-art technological approach to the valuation process. A progressive Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal (C.A.M.A.) system is used by experienced appraisers to ensure that fair values are set for all Seminole County property owners.

Appraisers are also assisted by our Geographic Information System (GIS) which helps us to provide detailed and up-to-date property ownership maps for field appraisers. The GIS system is updated daily to reflect new changes to the land in Seminole County. This information is also used to analyze property data and gives appraisers yet another tool for comparing similar properties.

At least once every five years, one of our appraisers will visit and inspect each property as required by Florida law. However, individual property values may be adjusted between visits in light of new construction, additions, sales activity or other factors affecting real estate values in your neighborhood. Sales of similar properties are a strong indicator of values in the real estate market in your vicinity.

To find the value of your property, the Property Appraiser must first know what properties have sold, and how much they are selling for in today's market. That is why we maintain an accurate database of real estate information. Each transaction must be studied to make sure it was an arms-length transaction, meaning that a willing seller sold to a willing buyer without any undue pressure or special incentives and that the property was on the market for neither an excessive nor short period of time. Once this is determined, we can base the value of the property from other sales of comparable properties. This is the sales comparison approach to valuation.

The Florida Constitution has been amended effective January 1, 1995, to limit any annual increase in the assessed value of residential property with a homestead exemption to 3 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. This limitation does not include any change, addition or improvement to a homestead (excluding normal maintenance or substantially equivalent replacement). During subsequent years, any improvements will fall under the Constitutional limitation.

Two other methods are used to appraise property - the cost approach and the income approach. The cost approach is based on how much it would cost today to build an almost identical structure on the parcel. If your property is not new, the appraiser must also determine how much value the building has lost over time. The appraiser must also determine the value of the land itself - without buildings or any improvements.

The income approach is the third way to evaluate property - usually commercial property. It requires a study of how much revenue your property would produce if it were rented such as an apartment house, a store, an office building, and so on. The appraiser must consider operating expenses, taxes, insurance, maintenance costs, and the return or profit most people would expect on your kind of property.

What is Personal Property?

Tangible personal property is everything other than real estate that is used in a business to produce income and that has value by itself. It includes such depreciating assets as furniture, fixtures, tools, machinery, household appliances, signs, equipment, leasehold improvements, supplies, and leased equipment.

Anyone owning tangible personal property on January 1, who has either a proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or is a self-employed agent or a contractor, must file a tangible personal property return by April 1 each year. Property owners who lease, lend, or rent property must also file.

At the beginning of each year, a tangible personal property tax return is mailed to all property owners who filed a return the previous year, applied for an occupational license, started or purchased a business. Failure to receive a return does not excuse a person from filing or the penalties levied on late returns.

Tangible personal property returns filed after April 1 carry a penalty of 5 percent per month (up to 25 percent).

Seminole County property taxes provide the funds so our local governments can provide needed services - like educating our children and protecting us from crime. Without property taxes many of the services provided by local government would not be available.

The property appraiser is not responsible for the amount of taxes collected. The property appraiser's primary responsibility is to determine the fair market value of your property, so that you will pay only your fair and equitable share. The value of your property is only one part of the equation.

Who decides how much I owe?

The tax rate (millage) is set by the various taxing authorities within which your property is located. These authorities - including the county, cities, school board, and special districts - are authorized by law to levy taxes on real estate and tangible personal property to fund their operations and services.

As part of their budget process, these taxing authorities set millage rates based upon their determination of what services are needed. They set the rate by dividing their total budget by the total appraised value of the nonexempt property within the taxing district. The amount of taxes you owe is determined by applying the millage rate to your property's taxable value.

How is my tax rate figured?

Taxpayers are given an opportunity through the one or more public hearings on the proposed budget to comment on planned expenditures. The tax rate is based upon the final budget approved by the taxing authority following the hearing(s).

Your November tax bill is calculated by multiplying your property's appraised value (less any exemptions) times the millage (tax) rate set by each taxing district in which your property is located.

Why do my property taxes change?

Both your property's taxable value and your taxing authority's millage rate affect your annual property tax bill. Generally, if your property taxes go up, it means either your authority's budget increased, your property's value increased, or both. If your property taxes go down, either the budget was reduced, your property's value decreased, or both.

In addition to determining values, the Property Appraiser accepts applications for and administers property tax exemptions.

Several types of exemptions are available. The type of exemption benefiting the largest number of property-owners is the homestead exemption. If you own property which you use as your primary residence as of January 1, you may apply for homestead exemption. This will reduce the taxable value of your home up to $50,000, resulting in substantial savings on your property taxes.

Other types of exemptions include: religious, charitable, educational, low income senior, veteran disability, widow, widower, blind and permanently disabled. Any new exemption or change in exemption status should be filed as soon as possible, but no later than March 1.

Click here to for more exemption information and how to file.

In August of each year, the Seminole County Property Appraiser sends a Notice of Proposed Property Taxes, which is sometimes called a Truth in Millage (TRIM) notice, to all property owners as required by law. This notice is very important - look for it in the mail! You'll recognize it by prominent lettering, "DO NOT PAY - This is not a bill."

The TRIM notice tells you the taxable value of your property. Taxable value is the just value or market value less any exemptions.

The TRIM notice also gives you information on proposed millage rates and taxes as estimated by your community taxing authorities. It also tells you when and where these authorities will hold public meetings to discuss tentative budgets to set your millage tax rates. The final tax notices, as prescribed by law, will be mailed by the Seminole County Tax Collector Ray Valdes on or before November 1st. Following that date they will also be available on line from our site (linked from your parcel detail page) and on the Tax Collector’s website ( www.seminoletax.org )

If you think the market value shown on your TRIM Notice is not correct, you are encouraged to contact the Seminole County Property Appraiser's Office to speak with an appraiser. The appraiser can show you the information which was used to determine your property's value.

It is the responsibility of the Property Appraiser to determine that your property is appraised correctly and equitably - not to keep increasing property value. Our goal is to be fair and accurate using the most current resources and considering those forces which impact property values in your neighborhood.

You should make an appointment to meet with one of our appraisers and review the information we have about your property. If you still think the value is incorrect, after meeting with one of our appraisers, you have the right to file a petition with the Value Adjustment Board (VAB).

Petition forms are available for download or from our office. Petitions must be filed 25 days after the mailing date of the TRIM Notice in order for your complaint to be heard by the Value Adjustment Board (VAB).

The Seminole County Property Appraiser is charged with the responsibility of assessing all property within Seminole County fairly and equitably according to Florida law. This office does not set tax rates or determine the amount of taxes you pay. That is the responsibility of the various taxing authorities such as city and county commissions, the local school board and others.

Effective January 1, 1995, the annual increase in value for residential property with a homestead exemption is limited by constitutional amendment approved by the voters. State laws and regulations have been put into force to implement this limit.

The Save Our Homes Amendment, (sometimes referred to as Amendment 10) became effective January 1, 1995 as an amendment to the Florida Constitution.

It was voted upon and passed by a Florida citizen’s initiative on November 3, 1992. The amendment stated that the annual assessment of homestead property shall not exceed the lower of either three percent (3%) of the assessment for the prior year or the percent increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

This amendment does not apply to non-homestead property (such as residences without homestead, vacant land, or non-residential property), agricultural, tangible personal property as well as homestead property that has sold or otherwise been conveyed to a new owner during the calendar year.

What properties are not subject to Save Our Homes?

Only homestead property that remains under the same ownership during the calendar year qualifies for the limitation.

A buyer purchasing after January 1st shall inherit the benefit of the seller’s homestead for the current year. This results in a tax bill not too different from the previous year. However, when the property is reassessed on January 1st of the year following the purchase, and the tax bill arrives in November of that year, the Save Our Homes Cap has been removed and the new owner will see a substantial increase from what the previous owner paid.

How do I qualify for the benefit of Save Our Homes?

The new owner(s) MUST apply for homestead exemption. If the new owner applies for and receives homestead exemption, then the new owner’s Save Our Homes Cap on increases will commence for the year following the homestead exemption approval.

What happens if the property is sold?

A change in title could cause the Save Our Homes Cap to be removed and as of January 1st following the date of the transfer a reassessment will occur with a substantial increase in the following November bill. You must re-apply for homestead if you change the deed. Parents who add their children to the title of real property in an effort to avoid probate might experience an increase in property tax. Contact your attorney for the proper wording for the new deed to assure the continuation of the homestead and Save Our Homes Cap.

What about any improvements or additions to the property?

The full market value of physical alterations to the property such as additions or improvements (not including normal maintenance) will be added to the property’s assessment after the Save Our Homes Cap has been applied to the qualifying homestead property.

If you have further questions regarding Save Our Homes call 407.665.7506

When did the 10% cap for non-homestead properties become effective?
The 10 % cap on non-homestead assessments became effective on the 2009 tax roll.

How to do I apply for the 10% cap for non-homestead assessment on my properties?
The 10% cap is applied to eligible properties automatically.  There is no application required.

What does "non-homestead property" mean?
All properties not receiving a homestead exemption such as vacant land, commercial properties and rental properties.

Will the 10% cap reduce my taxes?
No, the 10% cap will cap the assessment from increasing more than 10% the following year.

Does the 10% cap apply to all taxing authority millage rates?
The 10% cap applies to all millage rates except for school tax levies.

Amendment One, passed in 2008, provides the following benefits:

1. Creates an automatic additional homestead exemption worth $25,000, applied to the homestead property’s value over $50,000. (All existing exemptions already included on your property, i.e., seniors, widows, veterans, etc. will remain the same with no changes.)

This exemption does not apply to school tax levies which represent approximately one half of your property taxes.

2. Allows portability of accumulated Save Our Homes (SOH) savings benefits for homeowners who move from one homestead to another with the following guidelines:

  • Homeowners may transfer their SOH benefit from their most recent homestead to a new homestead anywhere in Florida by the second January 1st following the sale of their former homestead. (For example: Those who sold their homes in 2014 can transfer their SOH savings benefit to a new homestead if they establish the new homestead by January 1, 20016.)
  • If "upsizing" to a home of equal or greater just value, the homestead owner can transfer 100% of the SOH savings benefit to the new homestead, up to $500,000 transferred benefit.
  • If "downsizing" to a home with a lower just value, the homestead owner can transfer a SOH savings benefit that protects the same percentage of values as it did the former homestead, up to a $500,000 benefit.

3. Creates a new Tangible Personal Property Exemption of $25,000.

4. Provides an assessment growth limitation of 10% for all non-homestead real properties (such as investors, commercial properties, second home owners, etc.). The Assessment growth limitation would "cap" the increase at 10%.

  • This assessment limitation does not apply to school tax levies.
  • This assessment limitation will expire in 10 years. At that time, voters will decide whether to reauthorize it.
  • Residential properties of nine units or less will surrender accumulated protections at change of ownership or control, as defined by general law.
  • For all other properties (i.e., residential properties of ten or more units and business properties), the Legislature must define by general law how the property will surrender protections when there is a "qualifying improvement" to the property. The Legislature may define by general law how the property will surrender accumulated protections at a change of ownership or control.

Under Florida law, a homestead “recapture” provision may cause your taxable value to rise even if your market value dropped from last year. If you have homestead and your “Save Our Homes” (SOH) value is less than the just (market) value, state law requires that your overall assessed value increase each year by the 3% annual cap level until it eventually reaches the same amount as the market value.



SAVE OUR HOMES “RECAPTURE” PROVISION


FLORIDA STATUTES:


Section 193.155 – Homestead assessments.—


Homestead property shall be assessed at just value as of January 1, 1994. Property receiving the homestead exemption after January 1, 1994, shall be assessed at just value as of January 1 of the year in which the property receives the exemption.


(1) Beginning in 1995, or the year following the year the property receives homestead exemption, whichever is later, the property shall be reassessed annually on January 1. Any change resulting from such reassessment shall not exceed the lower of the following:

  • (a) Three percent of the assessed value of the property for the prior year; or
  • (b) The percentage change in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, U.S. City Average, all items 1967=100, or successor reports for the preceding calendar year as initially reported by the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

(2) If the assessed Value of the property as calculated under subsection (1) exceeds the just value, the assessed value of the property shall be lowered to the just value of the property.


FLORIDA ADMINISTRATIVE CODE:


Rule 12D-8.0062. Assessments; Homestead; Limitations.

(4) The assessed value of each individual homestead property shall change annually, but shall not exceed just value.

(5) Where the current year just value of an individual property exceeds the prior year assessed value, the property appraiser is required to increase the prior year’s assessed value by the lower of:

  • (a) Three percent; or
  • (b) The percentage change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for all urban consumers, U.S. City Average, all items 1967=100, or successor reports for the preceding calendar year as initially reported by the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

(6) If the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) referenced in paragraph

(5) (b) is negative, then the assessed value shall be the prior year’s assessed value decreased by that percentage.

(7) The assessed value of an individual homestead property shall not exceed just value.