You will receive a notice of your hearing on form DR-481 from the VAB Clerk telling you the time and place that a special magistrate will hear your petition.
All hearings are held in the County Administration Building, 12 SE 1st Street, Gainesville, Florida. All rooms are ADA compliant, but for any questions or special needs, contact the VAB Clerk at (352) 374-3605.
Parking is available in various locations around the building – see locations on the map located on the VAB website.
What happens at the hearing?
At a Value Adjustment Board hearing, a special magistrate takes testimony and weighs evidence from the property owner and the property appraiser and recommends whether to grant or deny the property owner’s request to change property’s assessment value or to have an assessment or classification applied to the property. The special magistrate will make a recommendation to the VAB. The special magistrate is an expert hired by the Value Adjustment Board who has no ties to the Property Appraiser or the County and can thus make an informed unbiased decision.
All evidence presented becomes property of the Value Adjustment Board.
This is a summary of the hearing procedure. See FAC 12D-9.023 for detailed provisions on how hearings are conducted. Please refer to this code if you need more information.
How Do I Prepare for a Hearing?
Arrive at the hearing equipped with all necessary information about the property: location, construction quality, features of the property, vicinity to surrounding landmarks, etc. and comparable sales for the year leading up to or around the date of assessment. Be aware that the special magistrate has no knowledge of your property, so pictures and descriptions may be critical to understanding your situation. Some individuals with high-value property may wish to have their property independently appraised.
Decide what evidence you will present, such as witnesses and be ready to give your own testimony. Be sure your witnesses know when and where the hearing is. Make enough copies of the written evidence you wish to present. You will need three copies in addition to your own to use at the hearing. This evidence should be provided to the Property Appraiser before the hearing.
You may want to contact the Property Appraiser’s Office for an informal meeting to see if an agreement can be reached with regard to the property. The Property Appraiser is required to meet with property owners if requested by the property owner. Although you are not required to meet with the Property Appraiser, such a meeting can be helpful in deciding what evidence you need in case an agreement cannot be reached.
How is the Market Value for My Property Determined?
There are three approaches to value: cost, sales comparison and income. The Property Appraiser uses a computer-assisted mass appraisal system that incorporates elements of all three approaches to value. For residential property, market value is usually determined by the sales of like properties that have occurred in the year prior to January 1ST of the current year. The Notice of Proposed Property Taxes (or TRIM Notice) shows the property appraiser’s estimate of the market value of your property as of January 1st. Property appraisers use sales data from the prior year. For example, the Property Appraiser would determine 2010 assessments based on the market value of similar properties in the same or comparable subdivisions between Jan. 2, 2009, and Jan. 1, 2010. If a number of properties similar to yours sold before the January 1 assessment date, this would be evidence of market value. If you have questions about how the Property Appraiser valued your property, you can meet with the Property Appraiser before the hearing.
The special magistrate will review all the information and make his or her recommendation to the Value Adjustment Board. The Clerk to the VAB will send you a written copy of the special magistrate’s recommendation and the date and time the Board will meet to make a final decision.
Conducting a Hearing by Electronic Media
- You may request that your hearing be heard using telephonic means. The Clerk will set an approximate time in the schedule to call you with a phone number you provide.
- If the time scheduled to call you is delayed by more than 30 minutes, the Clerk will call you to notify you of the delay.
- All parties must agree on the methods for swearing witnesses, presenting evidence and placing testimony on the record and must be in agreement with FAC Chapter 12D-9.026.
- Such hearings must be open to the public either by providing the ability for interested members of the public to join the hearing electronically or to monitor the hearing at the location of the board or special magistrate.