By St. Johns County Property Appraiser Eddie Creamer, CFA
I have had the honor and privilege of being the St. Johns County Property Appraiser for the past five and a half years. During this period our county has grown dramatically, from 141,000 assessed properties in 2017 to 162,000 assessed properties in 2022. During this time, taxable values in the county have increased 71 percent, from $24 billion in 2017 to $ 41 billion in 2022. What does this mean to you as a property owner? Simply put, your taxes have increased. With no change in the millage rates set by the taxing authorities, your taxes have increased because your value has increased.
While there are several exemptions from property tax available to homeowners, the most important is Homestead Exemption, which is available to all homeowners who own and reside in their property as their primary residence on January 1 of the tax year and receive no other homestead tax benefit in Florida or the United States. Homestead Exemption reduces the taxable value of the property by $50,000 and places a 3 percent cap on the amount that taxable value can increase each year. The assessment cap limitation on non-homestead properties is much higher at 10 percent.
Property appraisers in Florida’s 67 counties are bound by law to appraise your property at just market value as of January 1 each tax year. Your taxable value each year is your just market value less any assessment cap limitations, less Homestead Exemption.
For example, if you owned a homesteaded property on Jan. 1, 2017 with a just market value of $250,000, your taxable value was $200,000 ($250,000 just market value less $50,000 homestead exemption), and your property taxes were approximately $2,500. Moving forward to Jan. 1, 2022, based on the increase in the market value of properties in St. Johns County, your just market value would now be $462,500, your taxable value would be $237,500 ($462,500 less $50,000 Homestead Exemption, less $175,000 homestead assessment cap limitation at 3 percent) and your property taxes would be approximately $3,000, an increase of 20 percent.
If this same property was not homesteaded, in 2022 your taxable value would be $402,268 ($462,500 just market value less $59,873 non-homestead assessment cap limitation at 10 percent) and your property taxes would be approximately $5,000, a 61 percent increase. You can see the importance of the Homestead Exemption limiting your tax increases due to increases in value (ad-valorem).
More than half of the properties in St. Johns County do not receive Homestead Exemptions. Most of these properties are businesses and residential rentals where tax increases are most certainly passed along to consumers.
Without action by the taxing authorities on millage rates during times of significant growth and market value increases, property taxes increase. And as the example above shows, this increase can be significant.
My office is constitutionally mandated to ensure that you receive all exemptions you are entitled to. Detailed information on exemptions, TRIM notices, tax bills and a tax estimator are available on our website at www.sjcpa.us. You may also view property record and valuation information and apply for Homestead Exemption online.
[For purposes of calculations, the millage rate used in the examples above was 12.5. Millage rates vary by municipality and taxing district and do not include CDD fees and other non-ad-valorem fees. Market value growth over the period is 85 percent.]