Property Tax Petitions Skyrocket Nearly 40 Percent
Taxpayer Appeals to the Value Adjustment Board Reach Record High
WEST PALM BEACH, FL (October 7, 2009) – The Clerk & Comptroller’s office has received a record-breaking 18,325 petitions from taxpayers disputing their proposed property tax assessment. That represents a nearly 40 percent increase over the 13,200 appeals filed in 2008 with the Clerk, the office that receives and processes petitions for the Value Adjustment Board, or VAB.
Of the petitions filed by the September 14 deadline; 9,888 (54 percent) of the properties are residential; 2,587 (14 percent) are commercial; 1,334 (7 percent) are vacant lots/acreage; 1,098 (6 percent) are industrial; and 130 (1 percent) are agricultural. Another 3,288 (18 percent) are currently listed as an unspecified property type. The majority of the petitions—14,060—are challenges to the property’s market value, with the remaining being petitions pertaining to the property’s exemption status, tangible value, portability and classification.
Why the Increase?
There are many factors that may have contributed to the rise in petitions including the sluggish economy, proposed increases in property taxes, and a change in legislation that puts the burden of proving the accuracy of the assessment on the Property Appraiser. In previous years, the Property Appraiser was presumed correct and the taxpayer had to prove the information was wrong.
VAB petition filings have steadily increased in recent years, jumping nearly 300 percent since 2003. The Clerk’s office received 4,687 petitions in 2003; 5,380 in 2004; 6,785 in 2005; 10,332 in 2006; and 11,184 in 2007. The number of petitions filed in 2009 may continue to grow due to another new policy allowing late petitions to be accepted provided a “good cause” is given for the late filing, such as an illness or other extraordinary circumstances.
More Online Petitions
This year, approximately 5,000 of VAB petitions were filed electronically using myVAB, a convenient online filing system offered by the Clerk’s office on www.mypalmbeachclerk.com. That’s three times the number of petitions filed online in 2008, the first year the option was available.
“Our myVAB technology not only makes it easier for customers to file and then follow-up on their VAB petition, but it also cuts costs and improves efficiency for our office by reducing paperwork,” said Clerk Sharon Bock. “We’re glad more and more petitioners are using the time-saving technology that we have available.” All petitioners, even those who didn’t file online originally, can use myVAB to receive real-time access to their petition, view scheduled hearings and submit supporting materials electronically.
The Property Appraiser notified property owners of their property’s assessed and market values in a Truth in Millage (TRIM) notice mailed on August 21. VAB, which consists of two county commissioners, one school board member and two citizen members, approves and hires special
magistrates to settle any disputes between the property owner and Property Appraiser. It is an independent entity that is not affiliated with the Property Appraiser or Tax Collector. As Clerk to the VAB, the Clerk’s office receives and processes petitions, schedules and coordinates hearings, clerks and records the hearings and more. VAB hearings will begin on October 14 and are expected to last six to nine months. For more information on myVAB, the Value Adjustment Board or the Clerk & Comptroller’s office, visit www.mypalmbeachclerk.com or call (561) 355-6289.
The Florida Constitution established the independent office of the Clerk & Comptroller as a public trustee, responsible for safeguarding public records and public funds. Clerk Sharon Bock is directly elected by and accountable to Palm Beach County residents. In addition to the roles of Clerk of the Circuit Court, County Recorder and Clerk of the Board of County Commissioners, the Clerk & Comptroller is the Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Auditor for Palm Beach County.
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