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TRIM notices are in the mail

August 18, 2017
By ERIC FEICHTHALER - Real Estate Law , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Mr. Feichthaler:

I received a "Notice of Proposed Property Taxes" today in the mail for my house. First, I really don't know what to do with this or the information. Second, I see that my market value of my home went up over $100,000! The reality is it may have gone up $10,000, but not that much! What can I do?

- Doug S.

Dear Doug:

Yes, property tax time is again upon us in Cape Coral, and most property owners will receive these notices by the end of the week. Also known as TRIM notices ("Truth in Millage"), these notices are designed to inform you of what you may pay for the year coming up. The three columns show, first, what last year's millage was and the taxes that resulted. The second column shows what your taxes and millage would be if spending were held constant, but taking into account the change in property values, and the final column is the maximum tax that each of the taxing districts can charge.

Most of these districts will have public meetings to adopt millage/tax rates. Cape Coral will have two meetings in September to adopt the final millage/tax rate. The rate on this statement cannot go higher at the final meeting, but the City Council can elect to lower it. Keep in mind, this statement does not include the fire assessment, which is also partially based on value. It also does not include other city assessments, such as lot mowing, stormwater and garbage, although all of these will also appear on your final tax bill in November.

You mentioned this was your home, which is good news for you as a property owner. No matter how high the "market value" may go, the Save Our Homes benefit caps annual increases to taxable value. The maximum amount the taxable value can increase is 3 percent, and over the past 10 years that cap has been below 1 percent. Therefore, there may be no financial benefit to protesting the market value in your case.

However, for those taxpayers who are in a situation where the market value is believed to be higher than justified, and a higher tax bill will result, a petition to the Value Adjustment Board can be filed. The fee to file is $15, and it can be done online through the Clerk's office. The deadline is in early September. You can also call the Lee County Property Appraiser directly for an informal review, which has benefited several of my clients in the past.

Just a reminder to those who have recently moved here filing for homestead tax savings is one of many great benefits of living in Florida. To establish homestead, you must live in your home and be domiciled there as of Jan. 1 of the year you are seeking the deductions. Driver's license, voting ID and other proof of residency is required. If you haven't yet filed, you must do so prior to March 1 to be eligible for 2018 taxes.

Eric P. Feichthaler has lived in Cape Coral for 28 years and graduated from Mariner High School in Cape Coral. After completing law school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., he returned to Southwest Florida to practice law and raise a family. He served as mayor of Cape Coral from 2005-2008, and continued his service to the community through his chairmanship of the Harney Point Kiwanis Club KidsFest from 2011-2015, which provides a free day of fun and learning to thousands of Cape Coral families, and funds numerous scholarships. He has been married to his wife, Mary, for 14 years, and they have four children together. Recently, he earned his board certification in Real Estate Law from the Florida Bar. He is also a Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator.

This article is general in nature and not intended as legal advice to anyone. Individuals should seek legal counsel before acting on any matter of legal rights and obligations.



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