Columbia County Property Appraiser - Jeff Hampton - Lake City, Florida 32055 | 386-758-1083
Columbia County Property Appraiser - Jeff Hampton - Lake City, Florida 32055 | 386-758-1083
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QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

FAQ Index:
What does the property appraiser do?
Does the property appraiser levy or collect taxes?
How is property appraised?
What is market value?
When will I know the amount of my tax bill?
What if I think the appraised value of my property is too high?
Can I get a homestead exemption if I rent a home or lot?
What if I own the mobile home and the land?
How Do I Apply for Portability (the Transfer) of My Homestead Exemption?
How Do I Take Advantage of the Additional $25,000 Homestead Exemption?
How Do I Receive the $25,000 Tangible Personal Property Exemption?
How Do I Take Advantage of the 10% Assessment Increase Limitation on Non-Homestead Property?
How Do I Pay My Property Taxes?
How Do I Find an Exemption?
How Do I Calculate the "Save Our Homes" Cap and Other Limitation Rates?
How Do I Find Out How My Property Appraiser Achieves Equity in Mass Appraisal of Tangible Personal Property?
How Do I Know if I Qualify for an Exemption?
How Do I Find Out What My Property Tax Rights Are as a Taxpayer?


What does the property appraiser do?
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 from individuals eligible for exemptions and other forms of property tax relief;
  • and most importantly, analyzes trends in sales prices, construction costs, and rents to best estimate the value of all assessable property.

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    Does the property appraiser levy or collect taxes?
    No. The property appraiser assesses all property in the county and is neither a taxing authority nor a tax collector. The property appraiser has nothing to do with the amount of taxes levied or collected. Three separate government entities each having unique and distinct roles in producing your November tax bill. First, the property appraiser annually appraises all property in your county at the market value as of January 1. Next, each taxing authority within the county sets their own millage rate based on the amount of tax dollars necessary to fund their annual budget. Finally, the tax collector takes the amount of taxes due in order to bill and collect all taxes levied within the county.

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    How is property appraised?
    At least once every three 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. Each transaction must be studied to make sure that it is an arms-length transaction.

    An arm's length transaction is a sale involving a willing seller and a willing buyer without any undue pressure or special incentives (such as family relationships). An arm's length transaction also means that the property was on the market for neither an excessive nor short period of time.

    Once this is determined, the property appraiser can base the value of a property on sales of comparable properties. That is why property appraisers maintain an accurate data base of real estate information, and this is the sale comparison approach to value.

    The Florida Constitution has been amended effective January 1, 1995 to limit any annual increase in the assessed value of residential property with a homestead exemption to 3 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. This limitation does not include any change, addition or improvement to a homestead (excluding normal maintenance or substantially equivalent replacement). During subsequent years, any improvements will fall under the Constitutional limitation.

    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 appraiser must also determine the value of the land itself - 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.

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    What is market value?
    Florida Law requires that the just value of all property be determined each year. The Supreme Court of Florida has declared "just value" to be legally synonymous to "full cash value" and "fair market value." The fair market value of your property is the amount for which it could sell on the open market. The property appraiser analyzes these market transactions annually to determine fair market value as of January 1.

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    When will I know the amount of my tax bill?
    Each August, the property appraiser sends a Truth in Millage (TRIM) notice to all property owners as required by law. This notice is very important -- look for it in the mail! You'll recognize it by prominent lettering, "DO NOT PAY - This is not a bill." The TRIM notice tells you the taxable value of your property. Taxable value is the just value less any exemptions. The TRIM notice also gives you information on proposed millage rates and taxes as estimated by your community taxing authorities. It also tells you when and where these authorities will hold public meetings to discuss tentative budgets to set your millage tax rates. The Columbia County Tax Collector will send each taxpayer a bill on November 1 of each year.

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    What if I think the appraised value of my property is too high?
    If you think the taxable value shown on your TRIM Notice is not correct, you are encouraged to contact your property appraiser's office to speak with an appraiser. The appraiser can show you the information used to determine your property's value.

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    Can I get a homestead exemption if I rent a home or lot?
    No. you must own the property on which you make an application. If you own a mobile home, but not the land on which it sits, you would not qualify for the homestead exemption. The mobile home would not be assessed on the tax roll. You would be required to purchase an annual mobile home tag through the Tax Collector's office.

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    What if I own the mobile home and the land?
    You could then qualify for homestead exemption. Even if you did not qualify for homestead exemption, you are required by Florida Statutes to purchase real property (RP) stickers for the mobile home. The mobile home would then be assessed as part of the real estate on the tax rolls.

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    How Do I Apply for Portability (the Transfer) of My Homestead Exemption?
    Each applicant will have to fill out an application (form DR-501T) in the office of the property appraiser of the county in which their new home is located. Required information will include the following: the date which the previous homestead was sold or no longer used as a homestead, the address and parcel identification number of the previous homestead, a list of all other owners listed on the tax roll, an affirmative statement that none of the previous owners remained in the homestead and continued to receive a homestead exemption, and a sworn statement attesting to his or her entitlement to the assessment difference transfer. See the frequently asked questions on portability at http://dor.myflorida.com/dor/property/portfaqs.pdf.

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    How Do I Take Advantage of the Additional $25,000 Homestead Exemption?
    If you already have a homestead exemption on your property, you don't have to do anything, the property appraiser will automatically apply the exemption to your assessed value. See the frequently asked questions on the additional homestead exemption at http://dor.myflorida.com/dor/property/additional_faqs.pdf ..

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    How Do I Receive the $25,000 Tangible Personal Property Exemption?
    Owners of tangible personal property must file a return this year as always. The first $25,000 in assessed value is exempt from taxes and the property appraiser will apply the exemption to your assessed value. If the assessed value of the property is $25,000 or less, you do not have to file a return in future years until that value exceeds $25,000. There are penalties involved if the value exceeds $25,000 and you do not file. See the frequently asked questions on the $25,000 tangible personal property exemption at http://dor.myflorida.com/dor/property/tppfaqs.pdf ..

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    How do I Take Advantage of the 10% Assessment Increase Limitation on Non-Homestead Property?
    You don't need to do anything to receive this assessment increase limitation. The property appraiser will assess your property every year as of January 1 and apply the 10% assessment increase limitation to eligible non-homestead property that did not change ownership or control in the previous calendar year. If a non-homestead property changes ownership or control and a deed is not recorded with county clerk of court, the new owner is required to file a Form DR-430 Change of Ownership or Control with the property appraiser in the county where the property is located within 60 days of the change of ownership or control. When a non-homestead property changes ownership or control, the current 10% assessment increase limitation is removed from the property, the property is assessed at just value, and a new 10% assessment increase limitation is put in place as of the January 1 in the year following the change of ownership or control.

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    How Do I Pay My Property Taxes?
    The State of Florida does not assess or collect property taxes; they are assessed and collected by locally-elected officials. If you have questions about your tax bill or unpaid taxes, contact your tax collector.

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    How Do I Find an Exemption?
    Property appraisers build the tax base by estimating the market value, or just value, of every property in the county as of January 1 each year. Just value is the amount a willing purchaser would pay a willing seller. Property appraisers also administer exemptions.
    More Info: http://dor.myflorida.com/dor/property/exemptions.html.

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    How Do I Calculate the "Save Our Homes" Cap and Other Limitation Rates?
    See the Tax Valuation and Income Limitation rates for more information on the Save Our Homes cap, total and permanently disability income limitation, cost of living adjustments for other exemptions, and the income limitation to qualify for the senior homestead exemption.

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    How Do I Find Out How My Property Appraiser Achieves Equity in Mass Appraisal of Tangible Personal Property?
    See the Standard Measures of Value: Tangible Personal Property Appraisal Guidelines for information on guidelines property appraisers use to help achieve equity in the mass appraisal of tangible personal property.

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    How Do I Know if I Qualify for an Exemption?

    See the Eligibility Criteria to Qualify for Property Tax Exemption for information on qualifying and obtaining an exemption. Amendment 10 (commonly known as Save Our Homes) limits the annual increase in assessed value of homestead exempt properties to 3% or the Consumer Price Index, whichever is lower, as long as the property owner maintains a homestead exemption. If you are a property owner, you may be eligible for an exemption. Check with your property appraiser to obtain a homestead or other exemption.

    Taxing authorities are authorized by Florida Statutes to levy taxes on real and tangible personal property to fund their operations and services. Taxing authorities propose a budget and consider public input during budget hearings to create a budget (commonly referred to as the Truth in Millager or TRIM process). Their final budget is then divided by the tax base to establish a millage rate.

    A roll-back rate is the rate at which the current tax base would produce the same taxes levied as the previous year. When a tax base increases, maintaining the same millage rate represents an increase in taxes. Millage rates are typically different for every taxing authority, depending on the budget of each taxing authority.

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    How Do I Find Out What My Property Tax Rights Are as a Taxpayer?

    See the Property Tax Bill of Rights for information on your property tax rights and the obligations of property appraisers, tax collectors, local governing boards and the Department of Revenue in property tax matters.

















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    DISCLAIMER
    This information was derived from data which was compiled by the Columbia County Property Appraiser Office solely for the governmental purpose of property assessment. This information should not be relied upon by anyone as a determination of the ownership of property or market value. No warranties, expressed or implied, are provided for the accuracy of the data herein, it's use, or it's interpretation. Although it is periodically updated, this information may not reflect the data currently on file in the Property Appraiser's office. The assessed values are NOT certified values and therefore are subject to change before being finalized for ad valorem assessment purposes.


    © Columbia County Property Appraiser | Jeff Hampton - Lake City, Florida 32055 | 386-758-1083 by: GrizzlyLogic.com