When and How to File your VAB Petition
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The petition process begins March 2nd. VAB petitions may be found at the Property Appraiser’s office, 12 SE 1st Street, 1st Floor, County Administration Building, the VAB Clerk’s Office, 12 SE 1st Street, 4th Floor, County Administration Building; the VAB Clerk’s website at http://alachuacounty.us/Depts/Clerk/Documents/DR-486_PetitionRequestForHearing.pdf or at the Florida Department of Revenue website at http://dor.myflorida.com/dor/property/forms/index.html#11. See Florida Administrative Code (FAC) 12D-9.015.
Petitions contesting exemption or classification determinations can be filed as early as March 2nd. All petitions, including value petitions, must be filed within 25 days of the mailing of the TRIM notices, making the filing deadline in mid-September. See the 2013 Calendar for exact dates.
- Petitions must be received by the filing deadline. The filing date is the date the petition is received by the VAB Clerk, noted by the stamped clock-in date on the petition. FAC12D-9.015(10) (filing means received by clerk during open hours). Petitions mailed prior to the filing deadline, but not received in the Clerk’s office until after the deadline are untimely. Attorney General Opinion 81-43.
- Petitions may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or faxed to (352)374-5265. However, the petition is not complete without payment, if required, which may be paid by credit card (with a 3.5% service charge) by phone or email. Call (352)-374-3605.
- The VAB may not extend the time for filing petitions but may consider a late-filed petition when “the petitioner has demonstrated good cause justifying consideration.” FAC12D-9.015(11). Petitioners must attach to the petition, a statement of the reasons for the late filing and any documents supporting the statement.
- The Board has designated the Value Adjustment Board Attorney to make good-cause considerations on late-filed petitions. See FAC 12D-9.015(11). The VAB Attorney shall make a good-cause consideration using the criteria in the above Administrative Code and accept or deny each late-filed petition. For an accepted petition, the Clerk will schedule the late-filed petition and notify the petitioner. If the petition is denied, the petitioner will be notified by the Clerk.
The FAC defines a completed petition as one that provides the required elements displayed above the sworn statement and is accompanied by a filing fee. If an incomplete petition is received either because there are missing elements or the fee is unpaid, the clerk shall notify the petitioner and give the petitioner an opportunity to complete the petition or pay the fee within ten (10) calendar days. (FAC 12D9-015(9). In the case of incomplete late-filed petitions, the petitioner must agree to waive notice periods to meet the scheduled hearing date; however, the Clerk will make every effort to notify the petitioner in a timely manner.
Fees Charged to file your Petition
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- There is no fee for timely-filed petitions appealing homestead exemption denials.
- All other petitions, including late-filed homestead exemption petitions, must be filed with a NON-REFUNDABLE $15 filing fee. Cash, money orders, checks (made payable to the Clerk of Court) and credit cards (plus a 3.5% service fee) are accepted.
- The VAB shall waive the filing fee with respect to a petitioner who demonstrates at the time of filing, by an appropriate certificate or other documentation issued by the Department of Children and Family Services and submitted with the petition, that the petitioner is an eligible recipient of temporary assistance under chapter 414. § 194.013(2), Fla. Stat.
- Joint petitions - The Property Appraiser will provide a Letter of Determination to include with the petition if the parcels meet the requirements.
- Owners of “contiguous, undeveloped parcels” may file a single, joint petition if the Property Appraiser determines such parcels are substantially similar in nature
- Condominium, cooperative, or homeowners’ associations may file a single joint petition on behalf of any association members who own parcels of property that the “Property Appraiser determines are substantially similar with respect to location, proximity to amenities, number of rooms, living area, and condition.”
- A single filing fee for joint petitions should be charged. The fee will not exceed $5 per parcel but will be no less than $15 per petition, and is to be proportionately paid by affected parcel owners.
Hearings before Special Magistrates
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You will receive a notice of your hearing on form DR-481 from the VAB Clerk telling you the time and place that a special magistrate will hear your petition.
All hearings are held in the County Administration Building, 12 SE 1st Street, Gainesville, Florida. All rooms are ADA compliant, but for any questions or special needs, contact the VAB Clerk at (352) 374-3605.
Parking is available in various locations around the building – see locations on the map located on the VAB website.
What happens at the hearing?
At a Value Adjustment Board hearing, a special magistrate takes testimony and weighs evidence from the property owner and the property appraiser and recommends whether to grant or deny the property owner’s request to change property’s assessment value or to have an assessment or classification applied to the property. The special magistrate will make a recommendation to the VAB. The special magistrate is an expert hired by the Value Adjustment Board who has no ties to the Property Appraiser or the County and can thus make an informed unbiased decision.
All evidence presented becomes property of the Value Adjustment Board.
This is a summary of the hearing procedure. See FAC 12D-9.023 for detailed provisions on how hearings are conducted. Please refer to this code if you need more information.
How Do I Prepare for a Hearing?
Arrive at the hearing equipped with all necessary information about the property: location, construction quality, features of the property, vicinity to surrounding landmarks, etc. and comparable sales for the year leading up to or around the date of assessment. Be aware that the special magistrate has no knowledge of your property, so pictures and descriptions may be critical to understanding your situation. Some individuals with high-value property may wish to have their property independently appraised.
Decide what evidence you will present, such as witnesses and be ready to give your own testimony. Be sure your witnesses know when and where the hearing is. Make enough copies of the written evidence you wish to present. You will need three copies in addition to your own to use at the hearing. This evidence should be provided to the Property Appraiser before the hearing.
You may want to contact the Property Appraiser’s Office for an informal meeting to see if an agreement can be reached with regard to the property. The Property Appraiser is required to meet with property owners if requested by the property owner. Although you are not required to meet with the Property Appraiser, such a meeting can be helpful in deciding what evidence you need in case an agreement cannot be reached.
How is the Market Value for My Property Determined?
There are three approaches to value: cost, sales comparison and income. The Property Appraiser uses a computer-assisted mass appraisal system that incorporates elements of all three approaches to value. For residential property, market value is usually determined by the sales of like properties that have occurred in the year prior to January 1ST of the current year. The Notice of Proposed Property Taxes (or TRIM Notice) shows the property appraiser’s estimate of the market value of your property as of January 1st. Property appraisers use sales data from the prior year. For example, the Property Appraiser would determine 2010 assessments based on the market value of similar properties in the same or comparable subdivisions between Jan. 2, 2009, and Jan. 1, 2010. If a number of properties similar to yours sold before the January 1 assessment date, this would be evidence of market value. If you have questions about how the Property Appraiser valued your property, you can meet with the Property Appraiser before the hearing.
The special magistrate will review all the information and make his or her recommendation to the Value Adjustment Board. The Clerk to the VAB will send you a written copy of the special magistrate’s recommendation and the date and time the Board will meet to make a final decision.
Conducting a Hearing by Electronic Media
- You may request that your hearing be heard using telephonic means. The Clerk will set an approximate time in the schedule to call you with a phone number you provide.
- If the time scheduled to call you is delayed by more than 30 minutes, the Clerk will call you to notify you of the delay.
- All parties must agree on the methods for swearing witnesses, presenting evidence and placing testimony on the record and must be in agreement with FAC Chapter 12D-9.026.
- Such hearings must be open to the public either by providing the ability for interested members of the public to join the hearing electronically or to monitor the hearing at the location of the board or special magistrate.
After the Hearing
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You will receive a copy of the special magistrate’s recommendation and notice of the board meeting where the board will make its final decision. These meetings are open to the public. The VAB can only approve the magistrate’s recommendation or set a hearing to determine whether the recommendation meets the requirements of sections 194.301, 194.034(2) and 194.035(1). The board may act upon the recommended decision without further hearing. The VAB cannot take testimony or other evidence from the parties about the merits of the petition. To avoid inadvertent testimony or presentation of other evidence, a taxpayer whose petition is on the agenda for consideration of the special magistrate’s recommendation is not authorized to address the VAB at that meeting.
Requests for Hearing before the VAB to Review Sufficiency of special magistrate’s recommendation
- The Request must be filed with the Clerk in writing five days before the Board Meeting at which the magistrate’s recommendation will be considered. Requests filed less than five days before the Board Meeting will not be considered.
- The Board’s attorney will review the Request and make recommendations at the Board Meeting where the Special Magistrate’s recommendations are being considered for that petition. If the VAB attorney agrees that there is a problem with the magistrate’s recommendation, the Board will place the item on the agenda of the next board meeting and the VAB Clerk will send notice the hearing to the parties.
- The board will review the Request from the petitioner and will either approve the magistrate’s recommendation without hearing, as authorized under Fla. Admin. C. rule 12D-9.031(2), or
- If the Board determines the magistrate’s recommendation does not meet the statutory criteria, the case will be remanded for another hearing before a Special Magistrate. Notice of the hearing will be given by the Board Clerk.
Rescheduling your Hearing
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Rescheduling requests should be made in writing directly to the Deputy Clerk via fax # 352-374-5265 or email to email@example.com. The form on the VAB website should be used for rescheduling requests.
A petitioner is entitled to one request to reschedule the hearing without showing good cause. The request must be written (form preferred) and received by the Clerk no less than five days prior to the originally-scheduled hearing. §194.032(2), Fla. Stat.
Additional requests to reschedule may be made only for an emergency when good cause is shown. Documentation supporting an additional or late rescheduling request is required. The request must be written and made to the Clerk who shall make the good cause consideration. See Fla. Admin. Code R. 12D-9.019(4)(b) for the full rescheduling procedure.
Withdrawal of your Petition
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Petitioners may withdraw their petitions at any time. Petitions that are withdrawn are required to be reported to the VAB Clerk. To properly capture withdrawals petitioners will be asked to complete form DR-485WI. A copy of the withdrawal form can also be obtained at the VAB Clerk’s office and on the County or DOR websites; they will also be available at hearings.
You may mail the withdrawal form to the VAB Clerk, 4th Floor – Clerk’s Office 12 SE 1st Street, Gainesville, FL 32601 or email a copy to the VAB Clerk at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Evidence to support your Petition
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- What is evidence? - Evidence is generally defined as something (including testimony, documents, and tangible objects) that tends to prove or disprove the existence of an alleged fact. In Value Adjustment Board hearings, the term evidence usually means the physical documentation supporting your petition (e.g., written statements, comparable sales information, income and financial statements, appraisal reports, photographs, etc.). The special magistrate has no knowledge of your situation, so you must provide a description of your property in addition to supporting documentation. Section 194.011, Florida Statues lists the criteria the property appraiser must use in arriving at your just market value. NOTE: Documents and photographs submitted at the hearing are part of the record and will not be returned to you.
- When does evidence need to be submitted? - You must provide the Property Appraiser a list of evidence with a copy of the documentation to be presented at the hearing at least 15 days before the hearing.Section 194.011(4)(a), Florida Statutes. Bring your original evidence to the hearing for it to be considered by the magistrate, plus two copies. The original is retained by the Clerk’s office for the record and a copy is retained by the magistrate. You should also keep a copy for yourself. The second copy is for the property appraiser, if you have not already provided a copy or for yourself to use during the hearing. The evidence you provide to the Property Appraiser does not get filed with the Clerk’s office. Do not submit your evidence to the Clerk’s office as it cannot be reviewed or considered in advance of the hearing. Failure to do so may prevent you from submitting this evidence at the hearing.
NOTE: If the 15th day falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, then the time ends on the previous business day. If you do not submit your evidence, the Property Appraiser can ask for the evidence to be excluded.
- How can I submit my evidence? - Section 194.011(4), Florida Statues dictates that all evidence MUST be submitted to the Property Appraiser’s Office. In order to fulfill this requirement as described above, you MUST submit a copy to the Property Appraiser’s Office, by mail at Attention: VAB Evidence, 12 SE 1st Street, Room 213 Gainesville, FL 32601 or by fax at 352-374-5278, or by email to email@example.com . Do not send your evidence to the VAB Clerk’s Office. The VAB Clerk’s Office is not associated with the Property Appraiser’s Office. Your evidence must be received by the Property Appraiser’s Office at least 15 days before your scheduled hearing. Send only copies to the Property Appraiser, since you will need to bring your originals with you to the hearing.
- When does the Special Magistrate see the evidence I submitted? - The Special Magistrate does not see the evidence until you present it at the hearing. You must bring copies of your evidence with you even though you submitted it to the Property Appraiser. If this requirement has not been met, your evidence can not be considered by the Special Magistrate at the hearing. If you are submitting multiple petitions for adjacent or related properties and the same evidence applies to all those petitions, separate, duplicate copies of all evidence must be submitted for EACH petition FILED. You MUST provide a copy of your evidence to the Special Magistrate at your scheduled hearing, as well as to the Property Appraiser’s Office.
- How many copies of my evidence do I need to bring? - You will need to bring 3 copies of your evidence. You will need one copy for the Clerk, one copy for the magistrate and, if you have not already submitted your evidence to the property appraiser’s office, you will need a copy for them. In addition, if you want your own copy for use at the hearing, you will need to have another set. The original will be retained by the clerk’s office, the magistrate will retain a copy to finalize the magistrate’s recommendation, and the property appraiser will retain their copy. The evidence you give to the clerk, magistrate or property appraiser will not be returned to you.
- How do I make a request to receive a copy of the evidence the Property Appraiser plans to use at my VAB hearing? - If you want to receive copies of evidence the Property Appraiser plans to use at your VAB hearing, Section 194.011(4)(b), Florida Statues dictates that you must request this information in writing when you submit your evidence to the Property Appraiser’s Office. If you submit a written request to the Property Appraiser’s Office, you will receive, no less than 7 days prior to your hearing, a copy of their evidence. NOTE: If you do not give the Property Appraiser your evidence 15 days prior to your hearing, the Property Appraiser’s Office does not have to provide you with their evidence.
- What happens with my evidence once my VAB hearing is over? - The evidence you give to the clerk, magistrate or property appraiser will not be returned to you. Please make and keep your own copies. If you want copies of the documents you file with the magistrate or the VAB Clerk’s Office.
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If you have a complaint alleging noncompliance with the law by the Board, special magistrates, the Board Clerk, or any of the parties, you must put your complaint in writing and file it with the VAB Clerk. If the complaint is against the Clerk, you may file it with the VAB attorney, instead.
The VAB attorney will review and respond to any written complaint within 15 days after the complaint is submitted to the Clerk or the VAB attorney.
The VAB attorney will send a copy of the complaint and the response to the Florida Department of Revenue within 10 days of issuing the response.
Routine requests for reconsideration, requests for rescheduling, and pleadings and argument in petitions may not be the subject of a complaint.
Do I have to pay my property taxes if I file a petition with the VAB?
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If you have filed a petition challenging the assessed value of your property, you must pay all of the non-ad valorem assessments and pay at least 75% of the ad valorem taxes, less the discount, if applicable, before the taxes become delinquent. (See s 194.014, Florida Statute for additional information.)
If you have filed a petition challenging the denial of an exemption or classification, you must pay all of the non-ad valorem assessments and the amount of the tax which the taxpayer admits in good faith to owe, less the applicable discount, before the taxes become delinquent. If the Value Adjustment Board determines that the amount of the tax paid is grossly disproportionate to the amount of the tax found to be due, the Tax Collector must collect a penalty of 10% of the deficiency per year from the date the taxes became delinquent.
If the petitioner fails to pay their taxes before they become delinquent on April 1 of the following year in which taxes are assessed, the Value Adjustment Board must deny their petition by written decision by April 20th.
If the Value Adjustment Board determines that the petitioner owes ad valorem taxes in excess of the amount paid, the unpaid amount accrues interest at the rate of 12% per year from the date the taxes became delinquent until the unpaid amount is paid. If the Value Adjustment Board determines that a refund is due, the overpaid amount accrues interest at the rate of 12% per year from the date the taxes became delinquent until the refund is paid. Interest does not accrue on amounts paid in excess of 100% of the current taxes due on the tax notice.
If a taxpayer doesn’t pay the taxes in the month of November, can a 4% discount be allowed later when the Value Adjustment Board renders it final decision? Yes, but only if the Value Adjustment Board rules in favor of the taxpayer prior to the taxes becoming delinquent. If the Value Adjustment Board rules in the favor of the Property Appraiser, the taxpayer is not afforded the 4% discount if the tax payment is not made by November 30th (postmarks accepted).
Will a discount be allowed after the month of February if a taxpayer hasn’t paid the taxes and the Value Adjustment Board denies the challenge? No. Discounts are honored if a tax payment is made between November and February. No discounts are allowed in March. The taxpayer must pay the taxes in accordance with s. 197.162, Florida Statutes.
How will the property owner obtain a corrected tax notice if the Value Adjustment Board approves the challenge? The Property Appraiser will forward a certificate of correction to the Tax Collector for revision of the tax notice. Discounts will be applied, if applicable, and the corrected notice will be mailed property owner.
Please see the Tax Collector‘s website at www.actcfl.org for additional information on tax discounts and other tax information.
NOTICE OF VALUE ADJUSTMENT BOARD MEETING
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that a public meeting of the Value Adjustment Board of Alachua County, Florida will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 16, 2014, in the Grace Knight Conference Room, 2nd Floor, County Administration Building, 12 Southeast 1st Street, Gainesville, Florida. The Board will grant or deny Special Magistrate recommended decisions regarding exemptions and assessed value of real property.
(If any accommodations are needed for persons with disabilities, please contact the Alachua County Equal Opportunity Office at 352-374-5275 [voice] or 352-374-5284 [TDD].)
J.K. Irby, Clerk
Value Adjustment Board
By: Deanne Williams, Deputy Clerk
Value Adjustment Board Special Magistrate
Opportunities now exist for attorneys and appraisers who are licensed in the State of Florida and meet the following criteria to serve as a special magistrate for the 2014 tax cycle for the Value Adjustment Board of Alachua County.P>
- Applicant may not be an elected or appointed official or an employee of Alachua County, a taxing jurisdiction, or the State.
- ATTORNEY Special Magistrate to hear issues of exemptions and classifications shall be a member of The Florida Bar with not less than 5 years experience in the area of ad valorem taxation.
- APPRAISER Special Magistrate to hear issues regarding the valuation of residential and commercial real estate must be a state certified real estate appraiser not less than 5 years experience in real property valuation.
- APPRAISER Special Magistrate to hear issues regarding the valuation of tangible personal property must be a designated member of a nationally recognized appraiser’s organization with not less than 5 years experience in tangible personal property valuation.
- Applicant need not be a resident of Alachua County.
- Applicant may not represent a person before the Value Adjustment Board in any tax year during which he/she serves as a Special Magistrate.
The Alachua County Value Adjustment Board invites qualified appraisers and attorneys to submit applications, statements of qualifications and experience, and hearing availability. The Attorney Special Magistrate Hearings have been scheduled for August 21 and October 20, 2014. The Appraiser Special Magistrate Hearings (valuations) have been scheduled for October 22-23, and November 5-6, 2014
APPLICATIONS MUST BE RECEIVED BY THE VALUE ADJUSTMENT BOARD BY 5:00 P.M. on Monday, March 24, 2014 (12 Southeast First Street, Fourth Floor, Gainesville, Florida 32601 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
For further information contact Deanne Williams, Deputy Clerk, Clerk of the Circuit Court’s Office, at (352) 374-3605 or email@example.com
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