Frequently Asked Questions

These are examples of questions frequently asked. There are many individual circumstances which can impact upon the appraisal and filing process. The Property Appraiser welcomes your inquiries. This office is here to serve you and all residents of Hardee County to ensure fair and equitable appraisal of property.

The 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. Estimating the “market” value of your property means discovering the price most people would pay for your property in its current condition. What is important to remember is that the property appraiser does not create the value. People establish 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 for exemptions and other tax relief
• analyzes trends in sales prices, construction costs, and rents to best estimate the value of all assessable property

At least once every five years, the property appraiser or a staff appraiser will visit and inspect each property. 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 strong indicators of value in the real estate market.

To estimate the value of a property, the property appraiser must identify the properties that have sold, their sale prices and the terms and conditions of the each sale. Once this is determined, the property appraiser can base the value of a property on sales of comparable properties. This method of appraising property is considered the sale comparison approach to value.

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 value of the land itself is also determined – without buildings or any improvements. The income approach (usually performed on commercial property) 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 the type of property you own.

The tax rate (millage) is set by the various taxing authorities including the County Commission, Cities, School Board, and Special Districts – all of which are authorized by law to levy taxes on real estate and tangible personal property to fund their operations and services.
As part of their budget process, these taxing authorities set millage rates based on their determination of what services are needed, and the cost of those services. They set the rate by dividing their total budget by the taxable value of all property within the taxing district.
Example: Budget Needs $13,750,000 ÷ $1,540,000,000 (taxable value) = 8.929 mills. Property owners will pay $8.929 per $1000 in taxable value.
Your tax bill, which is mailed each year in November by the Tax Collector, is calculated by multiplying your property’s taxable value (appraised value less any caps and exemptions) times the tax rate (millage) set by each taxing district in which your property is located. This part of your tax bill is the ‘ad valorem’ portion, which essentially means ‘based on value’; it is based on the taxable value of your property.
Another part of your tax bill is fee based rather than value based. This part of your tax bill may include solid waste collection and disposal fees and fire assessment fees.
Market Value – The most probable sale price for a property in a competitive, open market involving a willing buyer and willing seller.

Assessed Value – The value of your property after any “assessment reductions” have been applied. This value may also reflect an agricultural classification. If “assessment reductions” have been applied or an agricultural classification is granted, the assessed value will be different for School Versus Non-School taxing authorities and for the purpose of calculating tax levies.

Taxable Value – Taxable value is the current assessed value less all applicable exemptions used in the calculation of taxes for taxing authorities.

Agricultural Value – While market value assessments are based on the most probable price at which properties would sell according to their highest and most profitable use, properties receiving an agricultural classification are assessed based on the income potential of the property as farmed.

Florida Law provides for assessment limitations for Homestead and Non Homestead properties. The prior year’s increases in your assessed value were limited by Constitutional Amendment 10 – SOH (Save Our Homes) or by Constitutional Amendment 1 – Non Homestead Property Cap (10% Cap) and therefore a difference developed between your property’s assessed value and market value.

The SOH cap and 10% Cap was intended to prevent abrupt increases in taxable value on property when abrupt upward changes in the market occurred.

The Florida Department of Revenue proposed an Administrative Rule which requires the assessed value to be increased annually as long as it is lower than the market value. That Rule was adopted by the Governor and Cabinet, sitting as the Administrative Commission.

The Property Appraiser sends a Truth in Millage (TRIM) Notice to all property owners as required by law, usually in August of each year. This notice is very important. You will recognize it by the ‘DO NOT PAY – THIS IS NOT A BILL’ statement on the envelope and document.
The TRIM Notice shows you the taxable value of your property and provides information on proposed millage rates and taxes as estimated by each Hardee County taxing authority, which includes the County Commission, School Board, Cities, SWFWMD and the Indigent Health Care Board.

The TRIM Notice also gives you information on proposed millage rates and taxes as estimated by your county taxing authorities. It also shows you when and where these authorities will hold public meetings to discuss tentative budgets and set your final tax millage rates.

NOTE: The TRIM notice is a two sided form – the front of the form provides details of the property taxes and the back side of the form gives details of the non-ad-valorem taxes, which are fee-based rather than value based.

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 by $25,000, resulting in substantial savings on your property taxes. See other available Exemptions.
An agricultural classification, often referred to as Greenbelt, is the designation of land by the property appraiser, pursuant to § 193.461, in which the assessment is based on agricultural use value. See Agricultural Classification for additional details.
Market value (also known as ‘Just value’ in Florida law) is based on the net proceeds sellers receive after paying typical costs in completing what is known as an ‘arms-length transaction’. An arms-length transaction is a sale in which the parties involved are knowledgeable and acting in their own best interest and not in favor to one another. The transaction participants must not be under duress to buy or sell. The property must have been available on the open market for sale for a reasonable amount of time, with adequate market exposure to potential buyers, and under typical terms.

Market value, whether for private appraisal or for assessment purposes, is based on selling price under typical market conditions and not on an individual sale. By definition, market value may be more or less than the actual sale price of a particular property because conditions of that particular sale may differ from what is typical in the market for similar properties. Also, sometimes a buyer pays above or below market value for a multitude of reasons.

The Property Appraiser’s estimates of market value are based on typical market conditions as of January 1 of each year – eleven months prior to when you receive your tax bill. Market conditions may have changed during that time, sometimes quite significantly.

There are several reasons why the market value could have increased considerably from the prior year. One reason could be that market conditions may have reflected such an increase. Another possibility is that during our latest field inspection of your property, we added something that wasn’t previously in our records (sheds, fencing, patio pavers, etc.). In some cases, for several years there may have been insufficient market transactions to warrant a change. Sometimes, it takes several years for a sufficient number of sales to take place in a particular market to clearly indicate a significant movement in market values, either up or down.
This occurs when taxing authorities increase the tax (millage) rate to raise additional tax revenue, or when they increase their special non-ad valorem assessment fees on your property. Because of this, sometimes your taxes can go up even when the Property Appraiser’s value for your property has stayed the same or decreased.