You might have gotten a notice in the mail recently about your 2017 Notice of Proposed Property Taxes, also known as a TRIM (Truth-in-Millage) notice. Though your notice might have “this is not a bill” printed somewhere on it, it can still be a confusing and alarming bit of paperwork, so I thought I’d walk you through exactly what it is.
What is a TRIM notice and why am I getting one?
You are getting a yearly notice from your county’s property appraiser because of the “Truth in Millage” (TRIM) act, which was passed by the state legislature in 1980. It allows you to view the assessed value of your property and compare what you paid in property taxes last year to what you’re projected to pay this year.
Who decides how much my property is worth?
Your county’s property appraiser assesses and assigns personal property value at the start of each year. Property value is decided by the market conditions of the previous year – basically, what sellers were willing to accept and what buyers were willing to pay for homes in your area during the year prior. If the average sale/purchase price of two bedroom, two bathroom, single family homes in your area was somewhere in the ballpark of $150,000 last year, then your two bedroom, two bathroom, single family home is also going to likely be valued in the ballpark of $150,000.
This isn’t guaranteed though – there’s multiple factors that can impact the value of your property even further. Changes made to your property, such as renovations, remodeling, and additions, can cause property value to go up. Substantial damage or dilapidation can cause property value to go down. Other factors, such as location, crime rate, school zones, vegetation, and overall neighborhood appearance can all have an effect on how much your property is worth.
These are all factored into what you will see on your TRIM statement as “just” or “market” value, which is the fair market value of your property without any exemptions applied. This is not the rate you’re going to pay in taxes – this is just how much your home has been determined to be worth for the year. If you’ve been thinking about selling, the TRIM notice can be a useful tool for determining how much your property could potentially go for. You’d stand to make a tidy profit if your stated property value is higher than what you originally paid for the house!
Why would the amount I pay in property taxes change?
One of the biggest factors in determining property value for the year is the Millage Rate. It’s calculated so that, when applied to the appraised value of every taxable property in a county, every property owner is fairly and equally contributing to the cost of government. The Millage Rate depends on how much is needed to balance your local government’s budget for providing necessary services – changes in this amount cause changes in the Millage Rate, which means there will be changes in the amount of property taxes owed.
My property taxes have gone up!
If you see an increase in the amount you will be paying in property taxes, there’s several possible reasons for this that can be deduced from your TRIM statement. If your “just” or “market” value has gone up, then either an improvement you made to your home or a jump in the market value of homes in your area has caused your property value to go up. For example, Lake Mary is currently experiencing a surge in buyer interest and in construction of new amenities, which means homes in the area are higher in demand and buyers are willing to pay more to be able to live there, thus driving property values up.
If your “just” or “market” value has stayed about the same but you’re still projected to pay more this year, then a change in the local budget could be impacting the Millage Rate. There’s seemingly countless factors that can impact property value and property tax, but everything presented to you in your TRIM statement will be fairly calculated and necessary in order to keep your local government running.
What do I do with this information?
As stated on your notice, it is not a bill, so you’re not on the hook to pay anything until you have to pay your property taxes again. The TRIM notice is simply intended to inform you of the value of your property and how the amount you owe has changed. If you believe what you’re being charged is incorrect, the notice should also provide you information on when and where the taxing authorities will be hearing from the public and when the deadline to petition your property value is.
To get more info on TRIM notices and what you will receive from your county property appriaser, check out the following links: