Your Fair Share of Real Estate Taxes

If you live in Florida and own property, you will receive a TRIM (Truth in Millage) notice in the next 4 to 6 weeks. This notice will give you an estimate of the real estate taxes that the property must pay, based on the assessment and millage rate. The assessment is established each year by the County Property Appraiser using mass appraisal techniques. The millage rate is based on funds the city and county government need to operate. The real estate taxes for a property is then calculated by multiplying the assessment – say $100,000 times the millage rate of say 19 mills, which is really 1.9% or .019. This equals a tax of $1,900. I sometimes think that the use of the term millage rate is to confuse the taxpayer. It would be much clearer if it was expressed as a percentage of value.

As a taxpayer, you are only obligated to pay your fair share and the only part of the real estate tax equation which can be appealed is the assessment. With the decline in the market values of both residential and commercial properties from January 2008 to January 2009 the new assessment should be lower of the year of 2009 compared to the year of 2008.

However, because of the continuing need of the government for revenues it is possible that the millage rate will increase for the tax year of 2009. If the assessment for property declines by say 10% and the millage rate increases by 10% the final tax bill and revenues collected by government will be the same.

If you have property which has been enjoying the benefits of homestead exemption, your taxable or homestead exempt value may remain the same but with an increase in the millage rate you will have an increase in your taxes.

The TRIM notice you will receive at the end of August is an estimate of the taxes you will pay based on the government receiving the same amount of revenues in 2009 as in 2008. After you receive the TRIM notice, there is usually a period of 25 days to file an appeal petition if you wish to protest the assessment. Then, sometime in the next 12 months there will be a hearing before a Special Magistrate to protest the assessment.

If you object to the real estate taxes there are two proactive things you can do. One, attend the budget hearing at the City and County Commission meetings and tell government to stop spending so much money. Two, appeal your assessment.

As a property owner, you can file the appeal and present your arguments before the Special Magistrate. However, many property owners have found that using a professional is much more effective. With our 30 plus years of combined knowledge of South Florida real estate valuations as real estate brokers, professional appraiser, teacher and economic analysts, we are well equipped to represent property owners in the successful appeal of real estate tax assessments.


Tom Dixon 305-443-4966

After you receive your 2009 assessment visit our Tax Appeal Page and fill out the form at the bottom if you want us to review your assessment.