Broward County, which has one of the fastest growth rates in the nation, has a property tax roll value that is larger than many states. In 2018, the county had over 1.935 million residents with 22,550 sales of single family homes and 15,966 condo sales. That’s a LOT of activity. You can imagine how much work the property appraiser‚Äôs office must do each year. In fact, 850,000 tax bills are mailed on November 1st for the current calendar year¬†(taxes are paid in arrears).¬†

Property Taxes are Important

Property taxes, especially in Broward County, often seem complicated. And, understandably so. Local taxation is different here than in many places around the country. With different components including assessed value, millage rates, homestead, disability, widow exemptions as well as portability it is no wonder so many people are confused.
As real estate agents, we pride ourselves on understanding the ins and outs of local real estate, including property taxes. Questions regarding them are some of those most frequently raised by both buyers and sellers.  And, they are important!  Taxes are expensive. They play an integral role in both buying and selling a house.  Often, the real estate tax component can influence the decision to buy or sell.

Insight into Property Taxes

Recently, we  attended a seminar on Property Taxes, sponsored  Broward County Property Appraiser and the Broward County Tax Collector.

The Broward County Property Appraiser (BCPA) and the Broward County Tax Collector (BCTC) are two separate and distinct entities. Each has specific responsibilities. They are not interchangeable.

Broward County Property Appraiser’s Office

Home AppraisalAnnually, the Broward County Property Appraiser (BCPA) determines the value of your home.  This value is used as the base number at the start of the property tax equation.

How Is Your Property Appraised?

The BCPA has a process in place in for appraisals. Primarily, they use comparable sales as a guideline. That said, they analyze the sales of similar homes in your neighborhood to determine the likely market value. Also, they identify properties in your neighborhood that have specific shared issues (like waterfront or golf course locations). Both of these affect valuation.

Also, they review the prior years’ sales and incorporate lot sizes and adjusted square footage to determine the market value.

In determining the valuation, the appraiser includes everything under the roof truss as well as lot size, location and type.

It is important to note that the assessed value and the property’s market value are two different things. Generally, the assessed value of a home is less than the true market value of a property. While the assessed value considers things like square footage and lot size, the actual market value takes into account much more including recent updates done to a home, the overall condition of the home, supply and demand in a particular neighborhood, etc.

These types of improvements, combined with homestead exemptions, the Save Our Homes amendment (discussed later) and portability result in similar homes in the same neighborhood paying different amounts of real estate taxes.

Handling Appraisal Concerns

If you have questions regarding the valuation of your home, you would contact the Broward County Property Appraiser’s office. First, you can meet with the BCPA appraiser to discuss the valuation.  Second, you can petition the Broward County Adjustment Board. Finally, you can take legal action and file suit in the Circuit Court (appeals options are also available).

The website for the Broward County Property Appraiser’s office offers a great deal of information and services. You can file online for your homestead application (discussed below),  download forms, use the home buyers tax estimator tool, get tax savings information and report fraud.

Broward County Property Tax Collector

Property taxes rates (millage rates) are determined and calculated by taxing authorities. These are a combination of elected boards (city commission, school board, county commission) and not elected groups (hospital districts, water districts, children’s services board, etc). So, taxing authorities determine the millage rate which is applied to the assessed value.
Your property taxes are computed by taking the Assessed Home Value and subtracting Exemption Amount(s). This number is the taxable value of your home. Multiply this amount by your millage rate to determine the taxes due (also called ad valorem taxes).

Broward County Millage Rates

To further explain, the Broward County Millage (MIL) rate is the rate of the tax that is charged against the taxable value of the property. It is expressed in numbers of dollars per thousand of value. So, 23 mills equal (23/1000) 2.3%.

In 2016, the average mill was 20.3496  thus, the millage rate of your city is multiplied by the assessed value of your home to determine your property taxes.

Property owners are apprised of approximate millage rates via a Trim (Truth in Millage) notice which is mailed in mid-August of each year.  This is your notification of estimated taxes.  It is NOT a tax bill.  You should review this note for appraisal and millage information.

Neither the BCPA or the BCTC have input or control over this rate or its determination.  Millage rates for cities in Broward County are available here. It is important to be aware and attend meetings where these issues are discussed.

Paying Your Tax Bill

Actual tax bills are mailed to property owners on November 1 of each year. They can be paid beginning November 1st.   Bills may be paid on-line, by mail, in person at Wells Fargo, or in person at the tax collector’s office.  The address is 115 South Andrews Avenue in Room A100.

The Benefit of Early Payment

Now, you may be wondering if there is a benefit to pay your real estate taxes sooner rather than later. The answer is yes.There is a discount for early payment. That said, if you remit payment between November 1st and November 30th, you will receive a 4 percent discount. Then, bills paid in December are discounted 3 percent. January is two percent and February is 1 percent. Tax bills are due in March so there is no discount. Finally, taxes not paid by April 1st are delinquent and 1.5% interest per month plus $11.50 in fees will be assessed.

Other Payment Options
Also, additional payment options exist if you cannot pay your taxes in full.  In fact, you can pay your property taxes either quarterly or in installments.   However, the installment plan incurs additional fees.  That said, if bills are paid in advance, discounts still apply.
Quarterly Payments

Those wishing to pay quarterly must enroll by April 30th for the following tax year. Understand, the four payment due dates each come with a discount.  For example, June’s payment discount is 6%, September’s is 4.5%, December’s is 3% and March is 0%.  The discount on the overall tax bill is 3.5%, half a percent less than when paid in November in a single payment. However, understand that once you enroll in the quarterly plan you cannot discontinue it.

Partial Payment Plan

Now, a second option is available for those who wish to space out their property tax payments.  This option is known as the partial payment plan.  In order to participate, you must officially request this option and be approved by the Tax Collector’s office.  This plan allows for up to five payments.  However, each must be at least $100 and will be assessed a $10 fee.  Additionally, the total property tax bill must be paid by March 31st. This time, no discounts will be available.

No Excuses for Property Taxes

There are no excuses for NOT paying your tax bill.  The tax collector’s office has made this extremely clear.  Even these common issues cannot be used as an excuse:
  • My name (the property owners) was not be on the bill.
  • My tax escrow notices were addressed to the seller of my house.
  • I received an escrow notice but my mortgage is paid or had changes.
Even if you experience one of these common issues, you MUST pay the tax bill in full. You can visit the Property Tax website to find out more information or call them at  954-831-4000.
That said, if the information on your tax bill is incorrect (wrong address, etc) the Tax Collector’s office cannot make corrections.  You need to contact the BCPA at 954-357-6830. If you have to change your escrow information on your tax accounts, contact your lender.
In short, knowing the difference between the BCPA and the BCTC can save you time and effort when you have questions and concerns.

Homestead Exemptions, Save Our Homes and Portability

Some of the most often asked questions of realtors with regard to property taxes have to do with exemptions, Save Our Homes Act (SOH) and portability. Each is explained below.

Homestead Exemption

The homestead exemption is offered to legal Florida residents who own real property and meet specific qualifications. First, you must be the legal owner or have beneficial title to the home as of December 31st. Second, the property must be your permanent residence (not a vacation home). You can only apply for and receive one homestead exemption, even if you own multiple homes.

The typical homestead exemption is $50,000 (on homes valued at over $75,000). The BCPA shared that i 2017 this saved homeowners between $615.43 and $1,030.61. Clearly, it is important to file for this exemption.

If you are interested in filing for this exemption for 2019, the timely filing period runs from March 2, 2018 to March 1, 2019. The late filing date is September 18, 2019. You can file for this exemption on-line or in person at one of the BCPA’s events.

Typically, you do NOT need to reapply for the homestead exemption if you have not moved. If you complete the application and are denied, you can appeal.

Finally, there are additional exemptions available to certain people, depending upon their circumstances (widows, veterans). These will decrease the taxable value of their homes. Click here for a list of exemptions and instructions on how to file for them.

Finally, there are additional exemptions available to certain people, depending upon their circumstances (widows, veterans). These will decrease the taxable value of their homes. Click here for a list of exemptions and instructions on how to file for them.

Save Our Homes

house for sale

Save Our Homes, effective January 1, 1995, amended the Florida Constitution. This amendment effectively protects longtime state residents from rising tax bills. Quite simply, it limits the increase in assessed values of a homestead property to the lower of either 3% or the annual rate of inflation, regardless of how much the property value truly increases. One year after your qualification for the homestead exemption you are automatically granted the protection generated by Save Our Homes. Here is the benefit: The more your home increases in value and the longer you own it, the more you will save in each year in taxes.

What is Portability?

Portability, defined by a state constitutional amendment, provides residents the ability to transfer the Save Our Homes advantage from one homestead property to the next (when they sell and buy a new home).  This amount transferred can be up $500,000 within two years of the sale.
According to Marty Kiar, the Broward County Property Appraiser, ‚Äúportability is the difference between the Property Appraiser‚Äôs just value (market value) of a property and the Save Our Homes value of that property.‚ÄĚ ¬†So, if your market value is $500,000 and your Save Our Homes Value (which includes your exemptions is $400,000) you would have $100,000 in portability. ¬†This figure can be carried over to your new property and be used to reduce its taxable value.

Portability can be used an unlimited number of times; but homeowners need to apply for it.  All values are determined by the county property appraiser and taxes are still determined by multiplying the appraised value by the millage rate of the city in which you reside.

Property Taxes Are Due Soon

Hopefully the information here provides you a greater understanding of how property taxation works within Broward County. Obviously, the information is complex. But, maintaining a working knowledge is important, not only when buying and selling a home, but also for all homeowners.

At The Wilson Real Estate Group, we are well equipped to help you understand the tax ramifications of both buying and selling a home and can guide you through the paperwork and processes. That said, we are also fortunate to have both the Broward County Property Appraisers Office and the Broward Tax Collector’s office willing and able to provide direction.

Remember, the only ‚Äúdumb question‚ÄĚ is the question not asked. With so many resources available, all of your concerns can be addressed.

Your real estate agent is the best source of information about the local community and real estate topics. Give The Wilson Group a call today at 954-818-6092 to learn more about local areas, discuss selling a house, or tour available homes for sale.

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