Wednesday, October 26, 2011

George Mindling Column 11-11-2005


Reappraisal Leads to Higher Property Taxes


I had responded to a small flyer enclosed with last years tax bill about the possibility of doing a “kill and combine” on two adjacent vacant lots with my primary residence to save on my property tax bill. My wife and I went through the process of combining the lots into our main tax bill and sighed with relief about struggling to make this year’s payment. However, when we received our new property tax bill last week, we were stunned to see the increase had doubled our taxes from last year. I was told by a neighbor the kill and combine had opened up my primary residence to a new appraisal and our eight-year-old base appraisal had been pried out from under the 3% increase cap placed on homes by the “Save our Homes Act.” I walked into the third floor Charlotte County tax appraisers office with my newly received 2005 tax bill. Answers! I wanted answers!

After the pleasant but totally frustrated Debbie, the woman behind the counter, had printed off several pages of information and meticulously explained how the bill had gotten from point A (last years bill) to point B (this years bill), she decided I needed to talk with the appraiser himself as I wasn’t grasping the heart of the process much less the details. The appraiser was no other than Charlotte County Tax Appraiser, Frank Desquin.

Debbie and I walked across the hall to the offices and after a few short moments, Frank introduced himself and welcomed me into his office.

The “kill and combine” had not affected our primary residence, Frank assured me. Debbie nodded her head in agreement. Indeed, the protected appraisal amount is clearly shown on the printouts. It showed the 3% increase, and that was all there was against the residence. The drastic increase was the reappraised property values, which were added after the first of the year. I had made my assessment on the old taxable values from last year when I had asked for the “Kill and Combine.” That was before Charley and the phenomenal increase in property values.

“The Protect Our Homes Act” applies to the primary residence only, and only if it has the benefit of Homestead Exemption. Ad Valorum taxes are those based on the appraised value of the house, which differs from home to home, owner to owner. The Act does not apply to non-Ad Valorum taxes, such as those assessed by your Municipal Service Benefit Unit. Those taxes are the same for every property owner, regardless of assessment and may increase without regard to the “Save Our Homes Act.”
While no one wants to pay taxes on unrealized gains, which is exactly what increases in property taxes are, we will be protected NEXT year from Ad Valorum increases above 3% from what we pay this year. On the other hand, let me know if you are looking for waterfront property, I just might have a couple of lots.

George Mindling

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