What does the Property Appraiser do?
The Orange County Property Appraiser is responsible for identifying, locating, and fairly valuing all property, both real and personal, within the county for tax purposes. The "market" value of real property is based on the current real estate market. Finding the "market" value of your property means discovering the price most people would pay for your property in its current condition. Determining a fair and equitable value is the only role of this office in the taxing process.
What is important to remember is that the property appraiser does not create the value. People make the value by buying and selling real estate in the market place. The property appraiser has the legal responsibility to study those transactions and appraise your property accordingly.
The property appraiser also tracks ownership changes; maintains maps of parcel boundaries; keeps descriptions of buildings and property characteristics up to date; accepts and approves applications from individuals eligible for exemptions and other forms of property tax relief; and, most importantly, analyzes trends in sales prices, construction costs, and rents to best estimate the value of all assessable property.
All this must be done economically - for less than a tenth of what it would cost you to hire someone to independently appraise your property. In fact, the Orange County Property Appraiser's Office has been recognized for its state-of-the-art technological approach to the valuation process. A progressive computer assisted mass appraisal (C.A.M.A.) system is used by experienced appraisers to ensure that fair values are set for all Orange County property owners.
Appraisers are also assisted by our Geographic Information System (G.I.S.) which helps us to provide detailed and up-to-date property ownership maps for field inspections. The G.I.S. system is updated daily to reflect new changes to the land in Orange County. This information is also used to analyze property data and gives appraisers yet another tool for comparing similar properties.
How is property appraised?
At least once every five years, one of our appraisers will visit and inspect each property as required by Florida law. However, individual property values may be adjusted between visits in light of sales activity or other factors affecting real estate values in your neighborhood. Sales of similar properties are a strong indicator of values in the real estate market in your vicinity.
To find the value of your property, the Property Appraiser must first know what properties have sold, and how much they are selling for in today's market. That is why we maintain an accurate data base of real estate information. Each transaction must be studied to make sure it was an arms-length transaction, meaning that a willing seller sold to a willing buyer without any undue pressure or special incentives (such as family relationships), and that the property was on the market for neither an excessive nor short period of time. Once this is determined, we can base the value of a property from other sales of comparable properties. This is the sales comparison approach to valuation.
Our Florida Constitution has been amended effective January 1, 1995 to limit any annual increase in the assessed value of residential property with a homestead exemption to 3 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. This limitation does not include any change, addition or improvement to a homestead (excluding normal maintenance or substantially equivalent replacement). During subsequent years, any improvements will fall under the Constitutional limitation.
Two other methods are used to appraise property - the cost approach and the income approach. The cost approach is based on how much it would cost today to build an almost identical structure on the parcel. If your property is not new, the appraiser must also determine how much the building has lost value over time. The appraiser must also determine the value of the land itself - without buildings or any improvements.
The income approach is the third way to evaluate property - usually commercial property. It requires a study of how much revenue your property would produce if it were rented as an apartment house, a store, an office building and so on. The appraiser must consider operating expenses, taxes, insurance, maintenance costs, and the return or profit most people would expect on your kind of property.
What is Tangible Personal Property?
Tangible personal property is everything other than real estate that is used in a business or rental property. Examples of tangible personal property are computers, furniture, tools, machinery, signs, equipment, leasehold improvements, supplies, and leased equipment. Inventory has been exempted by the legislature. Motor vehicles, boats, and airplanes are not subject to ad valorem taxes.
Anyone owning Tangible personal property on January 1 must file a tax return by April 1 each year unless you were notified by our office that the filing requirement has been waived. Every new business owning tangible personal property on January 1 must file an initial tax return. In any year the assessed value of your tangible personal property exceeds $25,000, you are required to file a return. Taxpayers who lease, lend or rent property must also file a return.
At the beginning of each year a tangible personal property tax return is mailed to property owners for all accounts with a assessed value of more than $25,000 in the previous year. Tax returns are also sent to the owners of new businesses and of businesses which changed ownership. If you own tangible personal property that exceeds $25,000 in assessed value, you must file a return even if you did not receive a return from our office. Failure to receive a return does not excuse a person from filing a return or the penalties that apply when no return is filed or is filed late. You may also download a return from our website or file a return online.
Tangible personal property returns filed after April 1 carry a penalty of 5 percent per a month (up to 25 percent).
Why tax property?Orange County property taxes provide the funds so our local governments can provide needed services - like educating our children and protecting us from crime. Without property taxes many of the services provided by local government could not be available. The property appraiser is not responsible for the amount of taxes collected. The property appraiser's primary responsibility is to find the fair market value of your property, so that you will pay only your fair share. The value of your property is only one part of the equation.
Can I get a tax exemption?
In addition to determining values, the Property Appraiser accepts applications for and administers property tax exemptions.
Several types of exemptions are available. The type of exemption benefiting the largest number of property-owners is the Homestead Exemption. If you own property which you use as your primary residence as of January 1, you may apply for homestead exemption. This will reduce the taxable value of your home up to $50,000, resulting in a savings of as much as $750.
Other types of exemptions include: limited income senior, widow, widower, permanent disability, disabled veterans, religious, charitable and educational exemptions.
When will I know the amount of my tax bill?
In August of each year, the Orange County Property Appraiser sends a Truth in Millage (TRIM) notice to all property owners as required by law. This notice is very important -- look for it in the mail! You'll recognize it by prominent lettering, "DO NOT PAY - This is not a bill."
The TRIM notice tells you the taxable value of your property. Taxable value is the just value less any exemptions.
The TRIM notice also gives you information on proposed millage rates and taxes as estimated by your community taxing authorities. It also tells you when and where these authorities will hold public meetings to discuss tentative budgets to set your millage tax rates.
Fees not related to your property value may also appear on your TRIM notice for garbage collection, roads, lighting and other government services. These fees are set by your taxing authority and are not affected by any change in the value of your house or property.
What if I think the appraised value of my property is too high?
If you feel the market value of your property is inaccurate or does not reflect fair market value, please contact your property appraiser at 200 S. Orange Ave., Suite 1700, Orlando, FL 32801 Customer Service (407)836-5044
If the property appraiser's office is unable to resolve the matter as to market value, you may file a petition for adjustment with the Value Adjustment Board. Petition forms are available from the County Property Appraiser or you may file a petition online at http://vab.occompt.com/2013.
- What happens at the hearing?
The clerk to the Value Adjustment Board will schedule your appearance before the special magistrate on your petition.
Hearings before the special magistrate are informal. An attorney or approved agent may represent you at this session, or you may represent yourself.
The special master will ask you to present your evidence and testimony in support of your petition first. After your presentation, an appraiser from our office will present evidence in support of the taxable value placed on your property. You then have the last word on your petition. The Value Adjustment Board will mail you a written copy of its final decision.
Your property value cannot be increased because you appealed your assessment by filing a petition.
The only adjustment allowed is a decrease in value if the Value Adjustment Board rules in your favor.
Keep in mind that just the fact that the assessed value of your property increased from one year to the next is not a valid reason to reduce this year's appraised value. In order to win a reduction in appraised value before the Value Adjustment Board, you must prove that the county's appraisal of your property exceeded market value and explain why.
- Where do I stand at that point?
No further action is required on your part if you accept the Value Adjustment Board's decision on your petition. But if you disagree with that decision and wish to continue to contest the value, you may file a civil suit in the Circuit Court and the court will determine if the appraised value exceeded the taxable value of your property.
Even if you do not file a petition with the Value Adjustment Board, you may file a lawsuit in circuit court under Florida law.
How do I get more information?
- Ownership - click on "Record Searches" link
- Legal descriptions - click on "Record Searches" link
- Assessments - click on "Record Searches" link
- Sales information - click on "Record Searches" link
- Parcel identification number - click on "Record Searches" link
- Lot size and square footage - click on "Record Searches" link
If you need any further assistance or instructions on how to obtain property information, please contact Customer Service at (407) 836-5044.
Important Phone Numbers to Remember
- Customer Service (407) 836-5044
- Real Property (407) 836-5044
- Tangible Personal Property (407) 836-5049
- Exemptions (407) 836-5045
- I.T. & G.I.S. (407) 836-5052
Important Dates to Remember
Appraisal date for real and tangible personal property - all property is appraised as of this date for each tax year.
All exemption applications must be filed.
All agricultural applications must be filed.
Tangible personal property tax returns due.
TRIM notices mailed to all property owners.