March 1st is Florida's Filing Deadline For Agricultural Classification and Charitable, Religious and Educational Exemptions!
By Daniel A. Weiss
March 1 is the annual filing deadline for property tax exemption in Florida. This includes not only the homestead exemption, but also charitable, religious, educational scientific and literary exemptions, as well as agricultural classification.
Here are a few FAQs related to Florida's valuable exemptions and exceptions from full-value property taxation.
The Property Appraiser's Office in each county administers property tax savings on properties that qualify for Florida's exemptions. Eligible properties are those which are owned by a nonprofit entity and used exclusively or predominantly for qualifying non-profit purposes. If used exclusively for qualifying purposes, applicants otherwise eligible for exemption may find the taxes on the property wholly ELIMINATED, irrespective of its value. Note that nonprofit is not synonymous with 501 C(3) classification under the federal Internal Revenue Code.
The two exceptions to this rule are educational and agricultural properties, which are discussed separately below.
Educational properties must be operated by accredited educational institutions. If owned by a for-profit entity, tax savings must be passed through to the qualifying operator of the educational institution in order to be eligible for exemption. The property must be used exclusively not just predominantly for educational purposes in order to qualify. That said, the structure to be used for educational purposes need not yet be constructed, provided affirmative steps have been taken to prepare the property for educational use by January 1st of the tax year. Consult the county Property Appraiser or a property tax consultant to ascertain whether a particular property qualifies.
Agricultural classification is not an exemption but an exception to full value taxation. The benefits conferred may reduce the taxes on the property so dramatically that Agricultural classification is frequently referred to as an exemption. In order to qualify, land must be used for good faith commercial agricultural purposes as of the January 1st assessment date. Because commercial use is required, nonprofit ownership is not a requirement. Again, consult the county Property Appraiser or a property tax consultant to ascertain whether a particular property qualifies.
For a more complete discussion of agricultural classification, go to your local law
library and consult Chapter 64 of Matthew Bender's Florida Tax Service 2d, titled
"Agricultural and Other Classified Properties," which I co-authored.
Other special classes of property under Florida law are pollution control devices;
high-water recharge lands; conservation easements, environmentally endangered
lands, lands used for recreational or park purposes when land development
rights have been conveyed or conservation restrictions have been covenanted;
building renovations for accessibility to the physically handicapped; historic
property used for commercial or certain nonprofit purposes; historically
significant properties when development rights have been conveyed or historic
preservation restrictions have been covenanted; and mineral, oil, gas and other
subsurface rights (which are separately assessed from the other interests in
The deadline for filing all applications for exemption and for agricultural
classification is March 1st each year. Bear in mind that FILING means actual
receipt by the Property Appraiser NOT just mailing. The safest way to prove
date of filing is to hand-deliver and retain a date-stamped copy or mail with
return receipt requested.
I cannot tell you how many exemptions have been forfeited because an applicant could not prove filing of a timely application. A word to the wise is sufficient.
Finally, missing the March 1st filing deadline is no longer necessarily fatal to your claim. State regulations now provide for filing as late as August or September upon a showing of extenuating circumstances, provided that you also file a value adjustment board petition to trigger a hearing on your claim of extenuating circumstances. Consult a property tax consultant if such circumstances exist. Do not simply rely on the county Property Appraiser in such circumstances, since many are inclined simply to state that if you have not filed by March 1st, you have missed the statutory deadline. This statement, while accurate, is far from complete.
About the Author
Daniel A. Weiss is an attorney with 25 years property tax experience; he was recently named among the top lawyers in the South Florida Legal Guide. For more information go to: http://www.tannebaumweiss.com
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