Problems That Arise At TRIM Time – and Solutions

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First – Scribner’s errors can occur given the long strings of numbers involved in parcel identification numbers. The solution is to file Value Adjustment Board petitions early enough to discover inadvertent errors in those numbers, and to correct them, well before the filing deadlines.

Second – it happens, through groupings of contiguous parcels, or creation of condominium units, or other changes to legal descriptions that parcel id numbers may be deleted or added, depending upon the reason for changes. The solution is to file Value Adjustment Board petitions early enough to learn if the Property Appraiser has changed their records, even if  the Tax Collector’s data may not be updated. And you can refile with corrected information as it is discovered BUT make sure new petitions are filed before the legal deadlines.

It’s also helpful to go to the Property Appraiser’s web site first to see what they have posted, or to use the TRIM information, in case other office records are not current. Each office in the State may operate on a different schedule for updating.

Third – when looking for professional assistance, especially during TRIM Time, taxpayers may want to ask attorneys or agents if they work in certain counties and if they have experience with certain classifications of property. Those two points are relevant to appeals.

What is not particularly useful to focus on where someone’s office is located or what they charge. The location of an office is not a good indicator of someone’s knowledge of the process or of specific jurisdictions. Florida is a large geographic area, with 67 counties, and it’s typical of the most experienced professionals that they work throughout regions of the State or even cover the entire State. If an attorney or an agent will not cover a certain jurisdiction, the taxpayer ought to ask why. It may be there is some political concern about that other jurisdiction which means the Hearing(s) may not be fair or lawful. In Florida, that’s a common problem, but it’s also useful to know people who are knowledgeable are working on solutions, and that several members of the Florida Legislature are aware of the problems too.

What someone charges, whether on contingency or some variation on contingency, may be related to the value and classification of property, how many properties are involved, and how much a taxpayer appears to understand about the process. Fees, contingency or otherwise, might change with the valuation and the size of the portfolio. Keep in mind that professionals are forbidden to compare fee structures or to otherwise engage in what might be considered collusion on pricing. And, everyone’s offices and business expenses are different – as is everyone’s level of expertise both procedurally and professionally.

Questions to ask about procedural matters can include:

What’s the difference between appraisal and assessment?

Is there any specific statute that defines “real property” for assessment purposes?

What is the underlying principle related to assessments in Florida? Is it “value in use” or “value in exchange”? And how would someone know when they see the data, particularly when commercial property is involved?

How often does the attorney or agent attend State workshops involving “rule making”?

And for how many years has the attorney or agent attended rule making meetings?

Does the attorney or agent routinely file Value Adjustment Board petitions and where?

Ask how much total value the attorney or agent has handled during any one cycle?

Are there any specific insights related to a classification of property that can affect its value for assessment purposes?

And more …

 

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