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Explanation of your taxes is in the mail

Explanation of your taxes is in the mail

By Frank Desguin August 22, 2006, Charlotte Sun-Herald Newspaper. Reprinted with permission. August 22, 2006. Desguin is the Charlotte County property appraiser.

Each year county taxing authorities are required to mail a notice of proposed property taxes, better known as a truth in millage, or TRIM notice to each Charlotte County property owner.

Examples of taxing authorities levying property taxes within the county are the Board of County Commissioners, School Board, and Punta Gorda City Council. Most property owners should receive their TRIM this week.

A lot of information appears on the notice, which is not a bill, and property owners should take the time to study it carefully. One bit of information is the property’s just, assessed, and taxable values last year and this year’s proposed values. It is important to understand that Florida law mandates Jan. 1 as the valuation date. Therefore, “just value” reflected on the notice is determined as of Jan. 1, 2006 and is based on the real estate market during calendar year 2005. Market activity during this year, 2006, will be analyzed for the 2007 tax roll and the results reflected on next year’s TRIM notices.

Although “just value” is an estimate of a property’s “fair market value” on Jan. 1, “assessed value” can be lower due to statutory requirements such as the Save Our Homes limitation associated with properties receiving the homestead exemption, or classified use laws, which require assessment at less than “just value”. Any exemptions granted in accordance with Florida law are then deducted from assessed value to determine a property’s taxable value. If the property does not receive an exemption, or a classified value is not applicable, just, assessed, and taxable values will all be the same.

The property appraiser’s role, in accordance with Florida’s Constitution and applicable law, is limited to annual determination of each property’s “just value”, its classified use value when required, and administration of exemptions,

Once the taxable value of all property within the county is determined, that information is submitted to the taxing authorities so they can determine the level of property taxes necessary to meet their revenue requirements. For example, if a taxing authority determines $1 million is required to fund its budget and the taxable value of property within its jurisdiction is $100 million, dividing the revenue requirement, $1 million, by the taxable value, $100 million, indicates that 10 mills, or $10 for every $1,000 of taxable value, is the required property tax levy. If the taxable value was $50 million, a property tax rate of 20 mills would be required to generate the $1 million.

Another important piece of information appears in the column, “Your Taxes This Year If No Budget Change Is Made.” Amounts are based on the “rolled-back” rates certified by the various taxing authorities. The roll-back rate is the reduced millage rate taxing authorities could set to receive the same property tax revenue this year as last year because property values have risen. The difference between that column and the amounts under, “Your Taxes This Year If Proposed Budget Change Is Made”, reflects the budget change proposed by each taxing authority and is not the result of higher valuations.

As previously stated, the TRIM notice contains a considerable amount of information requiring careful study. After reviewing it, if there are questions concerning a property’s just (market) value or exemptions, please direct them to the property appraiser’s office. The address and telephone numbers are on the notice.

More than 230,000 notices are mailed, so I ask for your patience if it is difficult to contact the office during the next several weeks. However, if questions relate to the proposed amount of property taxes, concerned citizens should make an effort to become involved by attending budget hearings at the time and place listed on the notice.

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