There is an old saying: a person who is acting as their own attorney has a fool for a client and an incompetent attorney. In this case, we are talking about real estate taxes. We are in the midst of buying a new home. There are a lot of expenses to consider with a move, and taxes are one of them, especially in Florida. Understanding how Florida computes real estate taxes is important, if you want to pay as little in taxes as possible.

This paragraph is specific to how Florida computes real estate taxes. If you aren’t interested in the mechanics of that, you can skip to the next paragraph. When you own real estate in Florida, the county property appraiser assigns your property a “market value” each year. If you live in your home, you can claim it as your homestead, and every year after the first year that you own it, the value can only increase by 3% for taxing purposes, and this amount is called your “assessed value.” The difference between the market and assessed value is called your “Save Our Homes” credit. You subtract your Save Our Homes credit from your market value to arrive at the assessed value, then your homestead exemption ($50,000) from your assessed value, and that is your “taxable value.” The taxing authority where the real estate is located then taxes you on that value, and the amount of tax you own varies by taxing district. (I know that this sounds complicated and it is, but the end result is that there are only 9 states in the US that have a lower tax burden than Florida (we are tied with Louisiana), so there is that.) The reason that I explain this is because the “Save Our Homes” credit is portable, and this is important when moving.

What’s important here is that, when you are moving, you want your old house to be valued as high as possible, and your new house to be valued as low as possible. This will minimize your property taxes going forward. Since we are preparing to move, I got our current home appraised and sent a copy of that appraisal to the county property appraiser’s office. Each August, the appraiser’s office sends every homeowner a copy of the proposed numbers, and you have until September 15 to appeal these numbers. The appraisal that we got from the county was almost $100k less than what the our private appraiser says it is worth. Since this is how our tax credits are calculated, I need to get this fixed, because allowing this to stand will increase our property taxes on the new house by about $2,200 a year for the entire time we own the place.

To do that, you need to apply to the Value Adjustment Board. It’s a sort of tax court that is run by a county magistrate. It’s a legal process, and I think that it is worth our money to hire a real estate tax attorney to handle the process. My wife wants to just do it ourselves because she says lawyers are expensive. My point to her is that we only get one chance to get this right, and screwing it up will cost us more than $22,000 over the next ten years in taxes that we otherwise wouldn’t have to pay. If it costs a grand or two now, a lawyer is well worth the cost going into the future.

Categories: Taxes


boneman · August 27, 2023 at 6:20 am

Just went through this as well. A damn good Realtor can also be immensely valuable walking you through this process. Since we “downsized” we will fare well. Also, moving from an area with both City AND County taxes to an are with only County taxes has halved our property tax bill. Something to consider also.

Elrod · August 27, 2023 at 7:32 am

Life cycle costs are routinely ignored, much to the detriment of many. In fact, few seem to even know such a thing exists.

Joe Blow · August 27, 2023 at 7:58 am

Please tell your beautiful, vivacious, charming, and esteemed wife that she is absolutely right. However being a lugnut from the last millenium, you are burdened with self doubt. For the price of brakes and rotors on your car, you will sleep like a baby forever and to eternity.

oldvet50 · August 27, 2023 at 9:31 am

What you just described is just one reason why most people hate the government. The inequity is glaring! A portable tax credit is apalling to me – it (by design) penalizes first time buyers. A fair system would be to tax on the purchase price but limit increases to 3% per year. You must believe that the purchase price is fair or you would not have purchased it at that price. If you sell your existing home for, say, $200,000, how can anyone argue argue it’s not worth that? Godamgubmint!

    Divemedic · August 27, 2023 at 10:59 am

    That was done by the voters, not the government. Save Our Homes was an amendment approved and requested by voters.

      oldvet50 · August 28, 2023 at 6:49 am

      Riiiight. I am sure that all the people that voted for this knew all of the intricacies and loopholes that were created when this was put in place. Lawyers create laws that require lawyers to understand. Most of the idiot masses that vote see – ‘oooh more money for me!’

        Divemedic · August 29, 2023 at 9:08 am

        Voters who vote for things that they don’t understand still isn’t government. It’s people being stupid, which is one of the (many) flaws of Democracy, the assumption that many people are wiser and more capable of making a good decision than is one person.

Noway2 · August 27, 2023 at 9:31 am

Hiring a lawyer costs $$. Not hiring a lawyer can cost $$$$$$$$.

Vitaeus · August 27, 2023 at 9:36 am

Hopefully your wife is able to follow the spend thousands to save many more arguement.

Terrapod · August 27, 2023 at 12:11 pm

Be sure you get a good specialized tax lawyer, Al Sauline PI Law would not be the right choice. My BIL is a tax specialized accountant in IL and is the busiest guy I have ever known given the tax laws in that state. Good luck getting the assessment raised to the moon.

thomasblair · August 27, 2023 at 4:36 pm

Does maxing the value on the old house lock the next owner into that new value for their calculation? Do they get to / have to then go to the variance board to get their appraised/taxable value knocked back down so they don’t get screwed with the taxes?

Kinda seems like the system is made to force everyone into passing the buck in one big circle with a whole bunch of paperwork to avoid getting screwed. Am I missing something?

Rick T · August 27, 2023 at 5:39 pm

Paying for a formal legal option can be a great investment. We had a big tree in our back yard that had lifted the block wall with our neighbor a bit so we had the tree taken down. End of problem? No, they were now claiming a ton of damage to their house and demanding lots of money for repairs. We didn’t know what the local law was, and too many people had too many opinions for me to feel comfortable just going along and paying, so we hired a specialist.

She reviewed all the facts and told us a couple of interesting things. First was that to move forward officially they needed a report from Certified Arborist that there were roots from the tree infiltrating the house to file a case. The second was that a lawyer wouldn’t take the case on contingency, they would have to pay as they went. She finally said IF we gave them any money it was to maintain goodwill between the households. They were assholes for many reasons, so that wasn’t going to happen. I smiled, paid her bill, and filed her response away.

The next time they started yammering about money to fix their house I just said “See you in court.” and told them to get off my property.

Property Appraiser Answer – Area Ocho · August 31, 2023 at 8:23 am

[…] county property appraiser has answered my request to increase the market value of the house. They think that I am nuts because I am essentially asking them to increase my taxes. That is wrong […]

Comments are closed.