Letter: Bock: What Is Your Real Estate Worth In Taxes?

Friday, Sept. 15 is the deadline to file a petition with the Value Adjustment Board.

Palm Beach County government is predominantly funded by ad valorem property taxes. If you own property in Palm Beach County, August is the month when you receive your property’s assessed and market values and proposed taxes in a Truth in Millage (TRIM) notice from the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser.

You may file a petition with our office’s independent Value Adjustment Board (VAB) to contest the Property Appraiser’s assessment, classification or exemption status for your property.

When property values increase, not all property owners will receive a huge tax bill. Under Florida law, the taxable value of a homestead property cannot increase by more than 3 percent or by the percent change of the Consumer Price Index, whichever is less.

State law allows Florida homeowners to claim up to a $50,000 Homestead Exemption on their primary residence. The first $25,000 of this exemption applies to all taxing authorities, while the second $25,000 excludes school taxes and applies to properties with assessed values greater than $50,000. The Homestead Exemption is granted to permanent Florida residents that own and live in the property on Jan. 1. If you sell your Florida home, the state’s portability laws allow you to transfer up to $500,000 of your property’s homestead value to the new property anywhere in Florida.

Property taxes are calculated by subtracting your exemptions from the assessed value of your property, dividing the sum by a thousand, and then multiplying it by the total millage rate. If you’ve seen an increase in your TRIM, it is more likely a result of increased property value or millage rates.

The VAB settles disputes between taxpayers and the Property Appraiser and is an independent entity not affiliated with the Property Appraiser or the Tax Collector. The VAB consists of two county commissioners, one school board member and two citizen members who approve and hire special magistrates to settle disputes during scheduled quasi-judicial hearings. These hearings are open to the public.

Last year, our VAB office processed 5,396 petitions. It is important to know that if you file a petition, it does not release you from paying your property taxes before the results of the VAB decision. You may lose your discount and/or accrue interest even if your assessment, exemption or classification is changed if you do not pay your taxes by the due date.

For a step-by-step guide on how to file or check Value Adjustment Board petitions, visit www.mypalmbeachclerk.com/uploadedFiles/Publications/my vab-handout.pdf or view our VAB page at www.mypalmbeachclerk.com/vab.

It is an honor and a privilege to serve as your Clerk & Comptroller. I remain committed to transparency in how your tax dollars are managed and spent.

Sharon R. Bock, Clerk & Comptroller, Palm Beach County