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 Department of Revenue to develop a uniform
8policies and procedures manual for use in proceedings
9before value adjustment boards; specifying availability
10requirements for such manual; amending s. 194.035, F.S.;
11requiring certain persons in certain counties to attend
12special magistrate training under certain circumstances;
13providing a fee exemption; requiring value adjustment
14boards to verify the qualifications of special magistrates
15prior to appointment; providing selection criteria;
16requiring the department to provide and conduct training
17for special magistrates; providing training requirements;
18requiring the department to charge tuition fees; providing
19for deposit of such fees; creating s. 194.0355, F.S.;
20providing application; providing requirements for motions
21asserting violations of law or rules governing hearing
22petitions; providing for appeal to the board of county
23commissioners; providing requirements for appeal;
24providing requirements for boards of county commissioners
25in hearing such appeals; requiring the board to issue
26instructions to the value adjustment board under certain
27circumstances; prohibiting value adjustment boards from
28rendering decisions until certain procedures are
29exhausted; amending s. 194.037, F.S.; revising information
30required to be provided on the disclosure of tax impact
31form; providing legislative intent; specifying that
32taxpayers are precluded from having certain burdens of
33proof; amending s. 195.052, F.S.; specifying requirements
34for data to be published by the Department of Revenue;
35extending the publication period; providing an effective
38Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
40     Section 1.  Paragraph (c) of subsection (4) of section
41193.155, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
42     193.155  Homestead assessments.--Homestead property shall
43be assessed at just value as of January 1, 1994. Property
44receiving the homestead exemption after January 1, 1994, shall
45be assessed at just value as of January 1 of the year in which
46the property receives the exemption unless the provisions of
47subsection (8) apply.
48     (4)
49     (c)  Changes, additions, or improvements that replace all
50or a portion of real property that was damaged or destroyed by
51misfortune or calamity shall be assessed upon substantial
52completion as if such damage or destruction had not occurred and
53in accordance with paragraph (b) if the owner of such property:
54     1.  Was permanently residing on such property or
55improvements were under construction and subject to completion
56prior to January 1 of the year when the damage or destruction
58     2.  Was not entitled to receive homestead exemption on such
59property as of January 1 of that year.; and
60     3.  Applies for and receives homestead exemption on such
61property the year following the completion of improvements made
62in compliance with paragraph (b) year.
63     Section 2.  Paragraph (b) of subsection (3) of section
64193.461, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
65     193.461  Agricultural lands; classification and assessment;
66mandated eradication or quarantine program.--
67     (3)
68     (b)  Subject to the restrictions set out in this section,
69only lands which are used primarily for bona fide agricultural
70purposes shall be classified agricultural. "Bona fide
71agricultural purposes" means good faith commercial agricultural
72use of the land. In determining whether the use of the land for
73agricultural purposes is bona fide, the following factors may be
74taken into consideration:
75     1.  The length of time the land has been so used. utilized;
76     2.  Whether the use has been continuous.;
77     3.  The purchase price paid.;
78     4.  Size, as it relates to specific agricultural use, but
79in no event shall a minimum acreage be required for agricultural
81     5.  Whether an indicated effort has been made to care
82sufficiently and adequately for the land in accordance with
83accepted commercial agricultural practices, including, without
84limitation, fertilizing, liming, tilling, mowing, reforesting,
85and other accepted agricultural practices.;
86     6.  Whether such land is under lease and, if so, the
87effective length, terms, and conditions of the lease.; and
88     7.  Such other factors as may from time to time become
90     Section 3.  Subsection (5) of section 194.011, Florida
91Statutes, is amended to read:
92     194.011  Assessment notice; objections to assessments.--
93     (5)(a)  The department shall by rule prescribe uniform
94procedures for hearings before the value adjustment board which
95include requiring:
96     1.(a)  Procedures for the exchange of information and
97evidence by the property appraiser and the petitioner consistent
98with s. 194.032.; and
99     2.(b)  That the value adjustment board hold an
100organizational meeting for the purpose of making these
101procedures available to petitioners.
102     (b)  The department shall develop a uniform policies and
103procedures manual that shall be used by value adjustment boards,
104special magistrates, and taxpayers in proceedings before value
105adjustment boards. The manual shall be made available, at a
106minimum, on the department's website and on the existing
107websites of the clerks of circuit courts.
108     Section 4.  Section 194.015, Florida Statutes, is amended
109to read:
110     194.015  Value adjustment board.--There is hereby created a
111value adjustment board for each county, which shall consist of
112two three members of the governing body of the county as elected
113from the membership of the board of said governing body, one of
114whom shall be elected chairperson, and one member two members of
115the school board as elected from the membership of the school
116board, and two citizen members, one of whom shall be appointed
117by the governing body of the county and must own homestead
118property within the county and one of whom must be appointed by
119the school board and must own a business occupying commercial
120space located within the school district. A citizen member may
121not be a member or an employee of any taxing authority, and may
122not be a person who represents property owners in any
123administrative or judicial review of property taxes. The members
124of the board may be temporarily replaced by other members of the
125respective boards on appointment by their respective
126chairpersons. Any three members shall constitute a quorum of the
127board, except that each quorum must include at least one member
128of said governing board, and at least one member of the school
129board, and at least one citizen member and no meeting of the
130board shall take place unless a quorum is present. Members of
131the board may receive such per diem compensation as is allowed
132by law for state employees if both bodies elect to allow such
133compensation. The clerk of the governing body of the county
134shall be the clerk of the value adjustment board. The office of
135the county attorney may be counsel to the board unless the
136county attorney represents the property appraiser, in which
137instance The board shall appoint private counsel who has
138practiced law for over 5 years and who shall receive such
139compensation as may be established by the board. The private
140counsel may not represent the property appraiser, the tax
141collector, any taxing authority, or any property owner in any
142administrative or judicial review of property taxes. No meeting
143of the board shall take place unless counsel to the board is
144present. However, counsel for the property appraiser shall not
145be required when the county attorney represents only the board
146at the board hearings, even though the county attorney may
147represent the property appraiser in other matters or at a
148different time. Two-fifths of the expenses of the board shall be
149borne by the district school board and three-fifths by the
150district county commission.
151     Section 5.  Section 194.035, Florida Statutes, is amended
152to read:
153     194.035  Special magistrates; property evaluators.--
154     (1)  In counties having a population of more than 75,000,
155the board shall appoint special magistrates for the purpose of
156taking testimony and making recommendations to the board, which
157recommendations the board may act upon without further hearing.
158These special magistrates may not be elected or appointed
159officials or employees of the county but shall be selected from
160a list of those qualified individuals who are willing to serve
161as special magistrates. Employees and elected or appointed
162officials of a taxing jurisdiction or of the state may not serve
163as special magistrates. The clerk of the board shall annually
164notify such individuals or their professional associations to
165make known to them that opportunities to serve as special
166magistrates exist. The Department of Revenue shall provide a
167list of qualified special magistrates to any county with a
168population of 75,000 or less. Subject to appropriation, the
169department shall reimburse counties with a population of 75,000
170or less for payments made to special magistrates appointed for
171the purpose of taking testimony and making recommendations to
172the value adjustment board pursuant to this section. The
173department shall establish a reasonable range for payments per
174case to special magistrates based on such payments in other
175counties. Requests for reimbursement of payments outside this
176range shall be justified by the county. If the total of all
177requests for reimbursement in any year exceeds the amount
178available pursuant to this section, payments to all counties
179shall be prorated accordingly. If a county having a population
180less than 75,000 does not appoint a special magistrate to hear
181each petition, the person or persons designated to hear
182petitions before the value adjustment board shall attend the
183training provided pursuant to subsection (3), regardless of
184whether the person would otherwise be required to attend, but
185shall not be required to pay the tuition fee specified in
186subsection (3). A special magistrate appointed to hear issues of
187exemptions and classifications shall be a member of The Florida
188Bar with no less than 5 years' experience in the area of ad
189valorem taxation. A special magistrate appointed to hear issues
190regarding the valuation of real estate shall be a state
191certified real estate appraiser with not less than 5 years'
192experience in real property valuation. A special magistrate
193appointed to hear issues regarding the valuation of tangible
194personal property shall be a designated member of a nationally
195recognized appraiser's organization with not less than 5 years'
196experience in tangible personal property valuation. A special
197magistrate need not be a resident of the county in which he or
198she serves. A special magistrate may not represent a person
199before the board in any tax year during which he or she has
200served that board as a special magistrate. Before appointing a
201special magistrate, a value adjustment board shall verify the
202special magistrate's qualifications. The value adjustment board
203shall ensure that the selection of special magistrates is based
204solely upon the experience and qualifications of the special
205magistrate and is not influenced by the property appraiser. The
206special magistrate shall accurately and completely preserve all
207testimony and, in making recommendations to the value adjustment
208board, shall include proposed findings of fact, conclusions of
209law, and reasons for upholding or overturning the determination
210of the property appraiser. The board shall appoint special
211magistrates from the list so compiled prior to convening of the
212board. The expense of hearings before magistrates and any
213compensation of special magistrates shall be borne three-fifths
214by the board of county commissioners and two-fifths by the
215school board.
216     (2)  The value adjustment board of each county may employ
217qualified property appraisers or evaluators to appear before the
218value adjustment board at that meeting of the board which is
219held for the purpose of hearing complaints. Such property
220appraisers or evaluators shall present testimony as to the just
221value of any property the value of which is contested before the
222board and shall submit to examination by the board, the
223taxpayer, and the property appraiser.
224     (3)  The department shall provide and conduct training for
225special magistrates at least once each state fiscal year in at
226least five locations throughout the state. Such training shall
227emphasize the department's standard measures of value, including
228the guidelines for real and tangible personal property.
229Notwithstanding subsection (1), a person who has 3 years of
230relevant experience and who has completed the training provided
231by the department under this subsection may be appointed as a
232special magistrate. The training shall be open to the public.
233The department shall charge tuition fees to any person attending
234this training in an amount sufficient to fund the department's
235costs to conduct all aspects of the training. The department
236shall deposit the fees collected into the Certification Program
237Trust Fund pursuant to s. 195.002(2).
238     Section 6.  Section 194.0355, Florida Statutes, is created
239to read:
240     194.0355  Motion to consider violation of uniform practices
241and procedures governing hearing before value adjustment boards
242or special masters.--
243     (1)  This section applies when there is a motion filed by
244the taxpayer or the property appraiser asserting that there was
245a material violation of the law or the rules governing the
246hearing of a petition.
247     (2)  The motion must be filed by the taxpayer or the
248property appraiser initially to the value adjustment board. In
249support of the motion, the taxpayer or property appraiser shall
250include a copy of the record of the hearing at which the
251asserted material violation occurred and a motion stating the
252particular circumstances of the violation. The value adjustment
253board shall make a written determination concerning the motion
254material violation within in 14 days of receipt of the motion.
255     (3)  If the concerns of the taxpayer or property appraiser
256are not resolved by the value adjustment board, the party
257asserting a material violation may appeal to the board of county
259     (4)  The appeal to the board of county commissioners must
260be in the form prescribed by the department and must be
261accompanied by a copy of the record of the proceedings.
262     (5)  Boards of county commissioners shall place the
263consideration of such assertions on their next available agenda,
264which shall be no later than 30 days after the filing of the
265form and record with the governing body of the county. In all
266circumstances, the board of county commissioners shall issue a
267written decision. The written decision shall contain findings of
268fact and conclusions of law and shall include reasons for a
269finding that a material violation of the law has occurred.
270     (6)  If the board of county commissioners finds that a
271material violation of law occurred, the board shall issue
272appropriate instructions to the value adjustment board or
273special magistrate that may include directions that a new
274hearing be held or that a different special magistrate be
275assigned to hear the case.
276     (7)  The value adjustment board shall not render a decision
277until the procedures in this section are exhausted.
278     Section 7.  Subsection (1) of section 194.037, Florida
279Statutes, is amended to read:
280     194.037  Disclosure of tax impact.--
281     (1)  After hearing all petitions, complaints, appeals, and
282disputes, the clerk shall make public notice of the findings and
283results of the board in at least a quarter-page size
284advertisement of a standard size or tabloid size newspaper, and
285the headline shall be in a type no smaller than 18 point. The
286advertisement shall not be placed in that portion of the
287newspaper where legal notices and classified advertisements
288appear. The advertisement shall be published in a newspaper of
289general paid circulation in the county. The newspaper selected
290shall be one of general interest and readership in the
291community, and not one of limited subject matter, pursuant to
292chapter 50. The headline shall read: TAX IMPACT OF VALUE
293ADJUSTMENT BOARD. The public notice shall list the members of
294the value adjustment board and the taxing authorities to which
295they are elected. The form shall show, in columnar form, for
296each of the property classes listed under subsection (2), the
297following information, with appropriate column totals:
298     (a)  In the first column, the number of parcels for which
299the board granted exemptions that had been denied or that had
300not been acted upon by the property appraiser.
301     (b)  In the second column, the number of parcels for which
302petitions were filed concerning a property tax exemption.
303     (c)  In the third column, the number of parcels for which
304the board considered the petition and reduced the assessment
305from that made by the property appraiser on the initial
306assessment roll.
307     (d)  In the fourth column, the number of parcels for which
308petitions were filed but not considered by the board because
309such petitions were withdrawn or settled prior to the board's
311     (e)(d)  In the fifth fourth column, the number of parcels
312for which petitions were filed requesting a change in assessed
313value, including requested changes in assessment classification.
314     (f)(e)  In the sixth fifth column, the net change in
315taxable value from the assessor's initial roll which results
316from board decisions.
317     (g)(f)  In the seventh sixth column, the net shift in taxes
318to parcels not granted relief by the board. The shift shall be
319computed as the amount shown in column 6 5 multiplied by the
320applicable millage rates adopted by the taxing authorities in
321hearings held pursuant to s. 200.065(2)(d) or adopted by vote of
322the electors pursuant to s. 9(b) or s. 12, Art. VII of the State
323Constitution, but without adjustment as authorized pursuant to
324s. 200.065(6). If for any taxing authority the hearing has not
325been completed at the time the notice required herein is
326prepared, the millage rate used shall be that adopted in the
327hearing held pursuant to s. 200.065(2)(c).
328     Section 8.  It is the express intent of the Legislature
329that a taxpayer shall never have the burden of proving that the
330property appraiser's assessment is not supported by any
331reasonable hypothesis of a legal assessment. It is the further
332intent of the Legislature that any cases of law published since
3331997 applying the every-reasonable-hypothesis burden of proof to
334uphold the property appraiser's assessment are expressly
335rejected to the extent that they are interpretive of legislative
337     Section 9.  Section 195.052, Florida Statutes, is amended
338to read:
339     195.052  Research and tabulation of data.--The department
340shall conduct constant research and maintain accurate
341tabulations of data and conditions existing as to ad valorem
342taxation, shall annually publish such data as may be appropriate
343to facilitate fiscal policymaking, and shall annually make such
344recommendations to the Legislature as are necessary to ensure
345that property is valued according to its just value and is
346equitably taxed throughout the state. Such data shall include
347the annual percentage increase in total nonvoted ad valorem
348taxes levied by each city and county and shall include
349information on the distribution of ad valorem taxes levied among
350the various classifications of property, including homestead,
351nonhomestead residential, new construction, commercial, and
352industrial properties. Such data shall include the previous
353year's adopted millage rate, the current year's millage rate,
354and the current percentage increase in taxes levied above the
355rolled-back rate. Such data shall be published, at a minimum, on
356the department's website and on the websites of all property
357appraisers of this state, if available. Publication shall occur
358not later than 90 60 days after receipt of extended rolls for
359all counties pursuant to s. 193.122(7).
360     Section 10.  This act shall take effect September 1, 2008.

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