CS/HB 909

A bill to be entitled
2An act relating to ad valorem taxation; amending s.
3193.155, F.S.; revising the assessment of homestead
4property damaged or destroyed by misfortune or calamity;
5amending s. 193.461, F.S.; revising criteria for
6classifying agricultural lands; amending s. 194.011, F.S.;
7requiring the Division of Administrative Hearings to
8develop a uniform policies and procedures manual and forms
9for use in proceedings before value adjustment boards;
10providing requirements for the manual and procedures;
11specifying certain hearings as not governed by certain
12provisions of the Administrative Procedures Act; amending
13s. 194.015, F.S.; revising the membership of value
14adjustment boards; providing for citizen members; revising
15criteria related to appointment to such boards; revising
16quorum requirements; deleting provisions authorizing
17county attorneys to act as counsel for value adjustment
18boards; limiting private counsel representation of certain
19persons; amending s. 194.035, F.S.; providing that a
20requirement that value adjustment boards appoint special
21magistrates for certain purposes applies to all counties;
22requiring value adjustment boards to verify the
23qualifications of special magistrates prior to
24appointment; providing selection criteria; requiring the
25department to provide and conduct training for special
26magistrates; providing training requirements; requiring
27the department to charge tuition fees; providing for
28deposit of such fees; creating s. 194.0355, F.S.;
29providing application; providing requirements for motions
30asserting violations of law or rules governing hearing
31petitions; providing for appeal to the board of county
32commissioners; providing requirements for appeal;
33providing requirements for boards of county commissioners
34in hearing such appeals; requiring the board to issue
35instructions to the value adjustment board under certain
36circumstances; prohibiting value adjustment boards from
37rendering decisions until certain procedures are
38exhausted; amending s. 194.037, F.S.; revising information
39required to be provided on the disclosure of tax impact
40form; providing legislative intent; specifying that
41taxpayers are precluded from having certain burdens of
42proof; providing an effective date.
44Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
46     Section 1.  Paragraph (c) of subsection (4) of section
47193.155, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
48     193.155  Homestead assessments.--Homestead property shall
49be assessed at just value as of January 1, 1994. Property
50receiving the homestead exemption after January 1, 1994, shall
51be assessed at just value as of January 1 of the year in which
52the property receives the exemption unless the provisions of
53subsection (8) apply.
54     (4)
55     (c)  Changes, additions, or improvements that replace all
56or a portion of real property that was damaged or destroyed by
57misfortune or calamity shall be assessed upon substantial
58completion as if such damage or destruction had not occurred and
59in accordance with paragraph (b) if the owner of such property:
60     1.  Was permanently residing on such property or
61improvements were under construction and subject to completion
62prior to January 1 of the year when the damage or destruction
64     2.  Was not entitled to receive homestead exemption on such
65property as of January 1 of that year.; and
66     3.  Applies for and receives homestead exemption on such
67property the year following the completion of improvements made
68in compliance with paragraph (b) year.
69     Section 2.  Paragraph (b) of subsection (3) of section
70193.461, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
71     193.461  Agricultural lands; classification and assessment;
72mandated eradication or quarantine program.--
73     (3)
74     (b)  Subject to the restrictions set out in this section,
75only lands which are used primarily for bona fide agricultural
76purposes shall be classified agricultural. "Bona fide
77agricultural purposes" means good faith commercial agricultural
78use of the land. In determining whether the use of the land for
79agricultural purposes is bona fide, the following factors may be
80taken into consideration:
81     1.  The length of time the land has been so used. utilized;
82     2.  Whether the use has been continuous.;
83     3.  The purchase price paid.;
84     4.  Size, as it relates to specific agricultural use, but
85in no event shall a minimum acreage be required for agricultural
87     5.  Whether an indicated effort has been made to care
88sufficiently and adequately for the land in accordance with
89accepted commercial agricultural practices, including, without
90limitation, fertilizing, liming, tilling, mowing, reforesting,
91and other accepted agricultural practices.;
92     6.  Whether such land is under lease and, if so, the
93effective length, terms, and conditions of the lease.; and
94     7.  Such other factors as may from time to time become
96     Section 3.  Subsection (5) of section 194.011, Florida
97Statutes, is amended to read:
98     194.011  Assessment notice; objections to assessments.--
99     (5)(a)  The department shall by rule prescribe uniform
100procedures for hearings before the value adjustment board which
101include requiring:
102     1.(a)  Procedures for the exchange of information and
103evidence by the property appraiser and the petitioner consistent
104with s. 194.032.; and
105     2.(b)  That the value adjustment board hold an
106organizational meeting for the purpose of making these
107procedures available to petitioners.
108     (b)  The Division of Administrative Hearings shall adopt,
109with assistance from the department, uniform procedures that
110shall be used by value adjustment boards, certified attorney
111special magistrates, taxpayers, certified real property
112appraisal special magistrates, and certified tangible personal
113property appraisal special magistrates in proceedings before
114value adjustment boards. The procedures shall be adopted as
115rules under the provisions of chapter 120 and shall be based on
116provisions in chapter 28-106 of the Uniform Rules of Procedure
117that are modified to promote procedures conducted by value
118adjustment boards and certified special magistrates that are
119accessible, fair, impartial, straightforward, and uniform
120throughout the state. These procedures shall include relevant
121provisions of chapter 194 and promote uniform and fair processes
122for the conduct of hearings on value adjustment board petitions
123that provide an equitable property tax appeal process in
124furtherance of statutory and constitutional requirements. The
125procedures shall be made available, at a minimum, on the
126division's website, the department's website, and on the
127existing websites of the clerks of circuit courts.
128     (c)  The department shall adopt forms that govern the
129conduct of hearings on value adjustment board petitions.
130     (d)  The department shall adopt a manual that shall contain
131at a minimum, the procedures adopted pursuant to paragraph (b)
132and the forms adopted pursuant to paragraph (c). The provisions
133of s. 120.536 shall not apply to this paragraph, and paragraphs
134(b) and (c).
135     (e)  Hearings on petitions to value adjustment boards and
136hearings conducted by certified special magistrates are not
137proceedings governed by s. 120.569 or s. 120.57.
138     Section 4.  Section 194.015, Florida Statutes, is amended
139to read:
140     194.015  Value adjustment board.--There is hereby created a
141value adjustment board for each county, which shall consist of
142three members of the governing body of the county as elected
143from the membership of the board of said governing body, one of
144whom shall be elected chairperson, and one member two members of
145the school board as elected from the membership of the school
146board, and two citizen members, one of whom shall be appointed
147by the governing body of the county and must own homestead
148property within the county and one of whom must be appointed by
149the school board and must own a business occupying commercial
150space located within the school district. A citizen member may
151not be a member or an employee of any taxing authority, and may
152not be a person who represents property owners in any
153administrative or judicial review of property taxes. The members
154of the board may be temporarily replaced by other members of the
155respective boards on appointment by their respective
156chairpersons. Any three members shall constitute a quorum of the
157board, except that each quorum must include at least one member
158of said governing board, and at least one member of the school
159board, and at least one citizen member and no meeting of the
160board shall take place unless a quorum is present. Members of
161the board may receive such per diem compensation as is allowed
162by law for state employees if both bodies elect to allow such
163compensation. The clerk of the governing body of the county
164shall be the clerk of the value adjustment board. The office of
165the county attorney may be counsel to the board unless the
166county attorney represents the property appraiser, in which
167instance The board shall appoint private counsel who has
168practiced law for over 5 years and who shall receive such
169compensation as may be established by the board. The private
170counsel may not represent the property appraiser, the tax
171collector, any taxing authority, or any property owner in any
172administrative or judicial review of property taxes. No meeting
173of the board shall take place unless counsel to the board is
174present. However, counsel for the property appraiser shall not
175be required when the county attorney represents only the board
176at the board hearings, even though the county attorney may
177represent the property appraiser in other matters or at a
178different time. Two-fifths of the expenses of the board shall be
179borne by the district school board and three-fifths by the
180district county commission.
181     Section 5.  Section 194.035, Florida Statutes, is amended
182to read:
183     194.035  Special magistrates; property evaluators.--
184     (1)  Each value adjustment In counties having a population
185of more than 75,000, the board shall appoint special magistrates
186for the purpose of taking testimony and making recommendations
187to the board, which recommendations the board may act upon
188without further hearing. These special magistrates may not be
189elected or appointed officials or employees of the county but
190shall be selected from a list of those qualified individuals who
191are willing to serve as special magistrates. Employees and
192elected or appointed officials of a taxing jurisdiction or of
193the state may not serve as special magistrates. The clerk of the
194board shall annually notify such individuals or their
195professional associations to make known to them that
196opportunities to serve as special magistrates exist. The
197Department of Revenue shall provide a list of qualified special
198magistrates to any county with a population of 75,000 or less.
199Subject to appropriation, the department shall reimburse
200counties with a population of 75,000 or less for payments made
201to special magistrates appointed for the purpose of taking
202testimony and making recommendations to the value adjustment
203board pursuant to this section. The department shall establish a
204reasonable range for payments per case to special magistrates
205based on such payments in other counties. Requests for
206reimbursement of payments outside this range shall be justified
207by the county. If the total of all requests for reimbursement in
208any year exceeds the amount available pursuant to this section,
209payments to all counties shall be prorated accordingly. A
210special magistrate appointed to hear issues of exemptions and
211classifications shall be a member of The Florida Bar with no
212less than 5 years' experience in the area of ad valorem
213taxation. A special magistrate appointed to hear issues
214regarding the valuation of real estate shall be a state
215certified real estate appraiser with not less than 5 years'
216experience in real property valuation. A special magistrate
217appointed to hear issues regarding the valuation of tangible
218personal property shall be a designated member of a nationally
219recognized appraiser's organization with not less than 5 years'
220experience in tangible personal property valuation. A special
221magistrate need not be a resident of the county in which he or
222she serves. A special magistrate may not represent a person
223before the board in any tax year during which he or she has
224served that board as a special magistrate. Before appointing a
225special magistrate, a value adjustment board shall verify the
226special magistrate's qualifications. The value adjustment board
227shall ensure that the selection of special magistrates is based
228solely upon the experience and qualifications of the special
229magistrate and is not influenced by the property appraiser. The
230special magistrate shall accurately and completely preserve all
231testimony and, in making recommendations to the value adjustment
232board, shall include proposed findings of fact, conclusions of
233law, and reasons for upholding or overturning the determination
234of the property appraiser. The board shall appoint special
235magistrates from the list so compiled prior to convening of the
236board. The expense of hearings before magistrates and any
237compensation of special magistrates shall be borne three-fifths
238by the board of county commissioners and two-fifths by the
239school board.
240     (2)  The value adjustment board of each county may employ
241qualified property appraisers or evaluators to appear before the
242value adjustment board at that meeting of the board which is
243held for the purpose of hearing complaints. Such property
244appraisers or evaluators shall present testimony as to the just
245value of any property the value of which is contested before the
246board and shall submit to examination by the board, the
247taxpayer, and the property appraiser.
248     (3)  The department shall provide and conduct training for
249special magistrates at least once each state fiscal year in at
250least five locations throughout the state. Such training shall
251emphasize the department's standard measures of value, including
252the guidelines for real and tangible personal property.
253Notwithstanding subsection (1), a person who has 3 years of
254relevant experience and who has completed the training provided
255by the department under this subsection may be appointed as a
256special magistrate. The training shall be open to the public.
257The department shall charte tuition fees to any person attending
258this training in an amount sufficient to fund the department's
259costs to conduct all aspects of the training. The department
260shall deposit the fees collected into the Certification Program
261Trust Fund pursuant to s. 195.002(2).
262     Section 6.  Section 194.0355, Florida Statutes, is created
263to read:
264     194.0355  Motion to consider violation of uniform practices
265and procedures governing hearing before value adjustment boards
266or special masters.--
267     (1)  This section applies when there is a motion filed by
268the taxpayer or the property appraiser asserting that there was
269a material violation of the law or the rules governing the
270hearing of a petition.
271     (2)  The motion must be filed by the taxpayer or the
272property appraiser initially to the value adjustment board. In
273support of the motion, the taxpayer or property appraiser shall
274include a copy of the record of the hearing at which the
275asserted material violation occurred and a motion stating the
276particular circumstances of the violation. The value adjustment
277board shall make a written determination concerning the motion
278material violation within in 14 days of receipt of the motion.
279     (3)  If the concerns of the taxpayer or property appraiser
280are not resolved by the value adjustment board, the party
281asserting a material violation may appeal to the board of county
283     (4)  The appeal to the board of county commissioners must
284be in the form prescribed by the department and must be
285accompanied by a copy of the record of the proceedings.
286     (5)  Boards of county commissioners shall place the
287consideration of such assertions on their next available agenda,
288which shall be no later than 30 days after the filing of the
289form and record with the governing body of the county. In all
290circumstances, the board of county commissioners shall issue a
291written decision. The written decision shall contain findings of
292fact and conclusions of law and shall include reasons for a
293finding that a material violation of the law has occurred.
294     (6)  If the board of county commissioners finds that a
295material violation of law occurred, the board shall issue
296appropriate instructions to the value adjustment board or
297certified special magistrate that may include directions that a
298new hearing be held or that a different certified special
299magistrate be assigned to hear the case.
300     (7)  The value adjustment board shall not render a decision
301until the procedures in this section are exhausted.
302     Section 7.  Subsection (1) of section 194.037, Florida
303Statutes, is amended to read:
304     194.037  Disclosure of tax impact.--
305     (1)  After hearing all petitions, complaints, appeals, and
306disputes, the clerk shall make public notice of the findings and
307results of the board in at least a quarter-page size
308advertisement of a standard size or tabloid size newspaper, and
309the headline shall be in a type no smaller than 18 point. The
310advertisement shall not be placed in that portion of the
311newspaper where legal notices and classified advertisements
312appear. The advertisement shall be published in a newspaper of
313general paid circulation in the county. The newspaper selected
314shall be one of general interest and readership in the
315community, and not one of limited subject matter, pursuant to
316chapter 50. The headline shall read: TAX IMPACT OF VALUE
317ADJUSTMENT BOARD. The public notice shall list the members of
318the value adjustment board and the taxing authorities to which
319they are elected. The form shall show, in columnar form, for
320each of the property classes listed under subsection (2), the
321following information, with appropriate column totals:
322     (a)  In the first column, the number of parcels for which
323the board granted exemptions that had been denied or that had
324not been acted upon by the property appraiser.
325     (b)  In the second column, the number of parcels for which
326petitions were filed concerning a property tax exemption.
327     (c)  In the third column, the number of parcels for which
328the board considered the petition and reduced the assessment
329from that made by the property appraiser on the initial
330assessment roll.
331     (d)  In the fourth column, the number of parcels for which
332petitions were filed but not considered by the board because
333such petitions were withdrawn or settled prior to the board's
335     (e)(d)  In the fifth fourth column, the number of parcels
336for which petitions were filed requesting a change in assessed
337value, including requested changes in assessment classification.
338     (f)(e)  In the sixth fifth column, the net change in
339taxable value from the assessor's initial roll which results
340from board decisions.
341     (g)(f)  In the seventh sixth column, the net shift in taxes
342to parcels not granted relief by the board. The shift shall be
343computed as the amount shown in column 6 5 multiplied by the
344applicable millage rates adopted by the taxing authorities in
345hearings held pursuant to s. 200.065(2)(d) or adopted by vote of
346the electors pursuant to s. 9(b) or s. 12, Art. VII of the State
347Constitution, but without adjustment as authorized pursuant to
348s. 200.065(6). If for any taxing authority the hearing has not
349been completed at the time the notice required herein is
350prepared, the millage rate used shall be that adopted in the
351hearing held pursuant to s. 200.065(2)(c).
352     Section 8.  It is the express intent of the Legislature
353that a taxpayer shall never have the burden of proving that the
354property appraiser's assessment is not supported by any
355reasonable hypothesis of a legal assessment. It is the further
356intent of the Legislature that any cases of law published since
3571997 applying the every-reasonable-hypothesis burden of proof to
358uphold the property appraiser's assessment are expressly
359rejected to the extent that they are interpretive of legislative
361     Section 9.  This act shall take effect September 1, 2008.

CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.