What taxpayers need to know about their rights under the law.
There is created a Florida Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights for property taxes and assessments to guarantee that the rights, privacy, and property of the taxpayers of this state are adequately safeguarded and protected during tax levy, assessment, collection, and enforcement processes administered under the revenue laws of this state. The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights compiles, in one document, brief but comprehensive statements that summarize the rights and obligations of the property appraisers, tax collectors, clerks of the court, local governing boards, the Department of Revenue, and taxpayers. Additional rights afforded to payors of taxes and assessments imposed under the revenue laws of this state are provided in s. 213.015. The rights afforded taxpayers to assure that their privacy and property are safeguarded and protected during tax levy, assessment, and collection are available only insofar as they are implemented in other parts of the Florida Statutes or rules of the Department of Revenue. The rights so guaranteed to state taxpayers in the Florida Statutes and the departmental rules include:
(1) THE RIGHT TO KNOW.—
(a) The right to be mailed notice of proposed property taxes and proposed or adopted non-ad valorem assessments (see ss. 194.011(1), 200.065(2)(b) and (d) and (13)(a), and 200.069). The notice must also inform the taxpayer that the final tax bill may contain additional non-ad valorem assessments (see s. 200.069(10)).
(b) The right to notification of a public hearing on each taxing authority’s tentative budget and proposed millage rate and advertisement of a public hearing to finalize the budget and adopt a millage rate (see s. 200.065(2)(c) and (d)).
(c) The right to advertised notice of the amount by which the tentatively adopted millage rate results in taxes that exceed the previous year’s taxes (see s. 200.065(2)(d) and (3)). The right to notification by first-class mail of a comparison of the amount of the taxes to be levied from the proposed millage rate under the tentative budget change, compared to the previous year’s taxes, and also compared to the taxes that would be levied if no budget change is made (see ss. 200.065(2)(b) and 200.069(2), (3), (4), and (8)).
(d) The right that the adopted millage rate will not exceed the tentatively adopted millage rate. If the tentative rate exceeds the proposed rate, each taxpayer shall be mailed notice comparing his or her taxes under the tentatively adopted millage rate to the taxes under the previously proposed rate, before a hearing to finalize the budget and adopt millage (see s. 200.065(2)(d)).
(e) The right to be sent notice by first-class mail of a non-ad valorem assessment hearing at least 20 days before the hearing with pertinent information, including the total amount to be levied against each parcel. All affected property owners have the right to appear at the hearing and to file written objections with the local governing board (see s. 197.3632(4)(b) and (c) and (10)(b)2.b.).
(f) The right of an exemption recipient to be sent a renewal application for that exemption, the right to a receipt for homestead exemption claim when filed, and the right to notice of denial of the exemption (see ss. 196.011(6), 196.131(1), 196.151, and 196.193(1)(c) and (5)).
(g) The right, on property determined not to have been entitled to homestead exemption in a prior year, to notice of intent from the property appraiser to record notice of tax lien and the right to pay tax, penalty, and interest before a tax lien is recorded for any prior year (see s. 196.161(1)(b)).
(h) The right to be informed during the tax collection process, including: notice of tax due; notice of back taxes; notice of late taxes and assessments and consequences of nonpayment; opportunity to pay estimated taxes and non-ad valorem assessments when the tax roll will not be certified in time; notice when interest begins to accrue on delinquent provisional taxes; notice of the right to prepay estimated taxes by installment; a statement of the taxpayer’s estimated tax liability for use in making installment payments; and notice of right to defer taxes and non-ad valorem assessments on homestead property (see ss. 197.322(3), 197.3635, 197.343, 197.363(2)(c), 197.222(3) and (5), 197.2301(3), 197.3632(8)(a), 193.1145(10)(a), and 197.254(1)).
(i) The right to an advertisement in a newspaper listing names of taxpayers who are delinquent in paying tangible personal property taxes, with amounts due, and giving notice that interest is accruing at 18 percent and that, unless taxes are paid, warrants will be issued, prior to petition made with the circuit court for an order to seize and sell property (see s. 197.402(2)).
(j) The right to be mailed notice when a petition has been filed with the court for an order to seize and sell property and the right to be mailed notice, and to be served notice by the sheriff, before the date of sale, that application for tax deed has been made and property will be sold unless back taxes are paid (see ss. 197.413(5), 197.502(4)(a), and 197.522(1)(a) and (2)).
(k) The right to have certain taxes and special assessments levied by special districts individually stated on the “Notice of Proposed Property Taxes and Proposed or Adopted Non-Ad Valorem Assessments” (see s. 200.069).
(2) THE RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS.—
(a) The right to an informal conference with the property appraiser to present facts the taxpayer considers to support changing the assessment and to have the property appraiser present facts supportive of the assessment upon proper request of any taxpayer who objects to the assessment placed on his or her property (see s. 194.011(2)).
(b) The right to petition the value adjustment board over objections to assessments, denial of exemption, denial of agricultural classification, denial of historic classification, denial of high-water recharge classification, disapproval of tax deferral, and any penalties on deferred taxes imposed for incorrect information willfully filed. Payment of estimated taxes does not preclude the right of the taxpayer to challenge his or her assessment (see ss. 194.011(3), 196.011(6) and (9)(a), 196.151, 196.193(1)(c) and (5), 193.461(2), 193.503(7), 193.625(2), 197.253(2), 197.301(2), and 197.2301(11)).
(c) The right to file a petition for exemption or agricultural classification with the value adjustment board when an application deadline is missed, upon demonstration of particular extenuating circumstances for filing late (see ss. 193.461(3)(a) and 196.011(1), (7), (8), and (9)(e)).
(d) The right to prior notice of the value adjustment board’s hearing date and the right to the hearing within 4 hours of scheduled time (see s. 194.032(2)).
(e) The right to notice of date of certification of tax rolls and receipt of property record card if requested (see ss. 193.122(2) and (3) and 194.032(2)).
(f) The right, in value adjustment board proceedings, to have all evidence presented and considered at a public hearing at the scheduled time, to be represented by an attorney or agent, to have witnesses sworn and cross-examined, and to examine property appraisers or evaluators employed by the board who present testimony (see ss. 194.034(1)(a) and (c) and (4), and 194.035(2)).
(g) The right to be mailed a timely written decision by the value adjustment board containing findings of fact and conclusions of law and reasons for upholding or overturning the determination of the property appraiser, and the right to advertised notice of all board actions, including appropriate narrative and column descriptions, in brief and nontechnical language (see ss. 194.034(2) and 194.037(3)).
(h) The right at a public hearing on non-ad valorem assessments or municipal special assessments to provide written objections and to provide testimony to the local governing board (see ss. 197.3632(4)© and 170.08).
(i) The right to bring action in circuit court to contest a tax assessment or appeal value adjustment board decisions to disapprove exemption or deny tax deferral (see ss. 194.036(1)(c) and (2), 194.171, 196.151, and 197.253(2)).
(3) THE RIGHT TO REDRESS.—
(a) The right to discounts for early payment on all taxes and non-ad valorem assessments collected by the tax collector, the right to pay installment payments with discounts, and the right to pay delinquent personal property taxes under an installment payment program when implemented by the county tax collector (see ss. 197.162, 197.3632(8) and (10)(b)3., 197.222(1), and 197.4155).
(b) The right, upon filing a challenge in circuit court and paying taxes admitted in good faith to be owing, to be issued a receipt and have suspended all procedures for the collection of taxes until the final disposition of the action (see s. 194.171(3)).
(c) The right to have penalties reduced or waived upon a showing of good cause when a return is not intentionally filed late, and the right to pay interest at a reduced rate if the court finds that the amount of tax owed by the taxpayer is greater than the amount the taxpayer has in good faith admitted and paid (see ss. 193.072(4) and 194.192(2)).
(d) The right to a refund when overpayment of taxes has been made under specified circumstances (see ss. 193.1145(8)(e) and 197.182(1)).
(e) The right to an extension to file a tangible personal property tax return upon making proper and timely request (see s. 193.063).
(f) The right to redeem real property and redeem tax certificates at any time before a tax deed is issued, and the right to have tax certificates canceled if sold where taxes had been paid or if other error makes it void or correctable. Property owners have the right to be free from contact by a certificateholder for 2 years (see ss. 197.432(14) and (15), 197.442(1), 197.443, and 197.472(1) and (7)).
(g) The right of the taxpayer, property appraiser, tax collector, or the department, as the prevailing party in a judicial or administrative action brought or maintained without the support of justiciable issues of fact or law, to recover all costs of the administrative or judicial action, including reasonable attorney’s fees, and of the department and the taxpayer to settle such claims through negotiations (see ss. 57.105 and 57.111).
(4) THE RIGHT TO CONFIDENTIALITY.—
(a) The right to have information kept confidential, including federal tax information, ad valorem tax returns, social security numbers, all financial records produced by the taxpayer, Form DR 219 returns for documentary stamp tax information, and sworn statements of gross income, copies of federal income tax returns for the prior year, wage and earnings statements (W 2 forms), and other documents (see ss. 192.105, 193.074, 193.114(5), 195.027(3) and (6), and 196.101(4)(c)).
(b) The right to limiting access to a taxpayer’s records by a property appraiser, the Department of Revenue, and the Auditor General only to those instances in which it is determined that such records are necessary to determine either the classification or the value of taxable nonhomestead property (see s. 195.027(3)).