Harvey Ruvin - Clerk of the Courts - Miami-Dade County, Florida

VAB's Local Administrative Procedures and Forms

I. ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES

  1. TIMELY FILED PETITIONS: 
    The Clerk will identify those petitions received on or before the statutory deadline as "Timely Filed Petitions" and thereafter schedule valuation and/or legal hearings on the properties described therein. Included as timely filed petitions  are those petitions for exemption and "portability" filed by taxpayers who did not receive  automatic renewals due to technical changes in ownership and who did not receive any  notice of denial of exemption other than the "Notice of Proposed Assessment" recently  mailed by the Property Appraiser.  Also included are any petitions filed by taxpayers who attempted to file applications, but were erroneously told that such applications were no longer necessary.    
  2. SPECIAL EXEMPTION, "PORTABILITY" AND AGRICULTURAL CLASSIFICATION PETITIONS AND APPLICATIONS:
    For the current year, taxpayers may file special exemption, "portability" and agricultural classification petitions and applications within the same time period allowed for the filing of  petitions contesting valuation. Unless these special exemption, "portability" and agricultural classification petitions and applications are timely filed, together with a nonrefundable filing fee of $15.00, the same will be rejected.  The Clerk is authorized to reject untimely filed petitions, as well as to create hearing procedures to accommodate the review of timely filed petitions and applications, not granted by the Property Appraiser.
  3. LATE FILED PETITIONS: 
    The Clerk will identify and mark those petitions filed after the statutory deadline as "Late Filed Petitions".
  4. JUST CAUSE HEARINGS, INCLUDING DATES FOR FILING: 
    The Clerk is authorized to provide a "Just Cause Hearing" for any Late Filed Petition (including petitions for exemptions, "portability" and agricultural classifications).  Such "Just Cause Hearings" will not be available in cases involving the special exemption, "portability" and agricultural classification petitions described in "2" above, if an "application" for such exemption, "portability" or agricultural classification was not timely filed with the Property Appraiser before the statutory deadline.  The Clerk may extend the date for filing VAB "petitions" for purposes of "Just Cause Hearings" under special circumstances requiring equity and due process, such as where taxpayers allege that they attempted to timely file exemption applications or petitions, but were erroneously advised that such filings were unnecessary. The Clerk (i.e. staff), the VAB attorney and/or the special magistrates are designated to act on behalf of the VAB with full power to determine the existence of "just cause", "good cause" and/or "extenuating circumstances" in particular cases for purposes of permitting the late filing of petitions and related applications in accordance with applicable law and Department of Revenue Rules.
  5. REJECTION OF PETITIONS NOT FILED IN PROPER FORM:  The Clerk must assure that every petition filed is complete and in the proper form as described in Section 194.011(3)(a), (b) and (c), Florida Statutes, and to reject those petitions not so filed.  If an incomplete petition is received, the Clerk must notify and give to petitioner an opportunity to complete the petition within 10 calendar days (including the payment of any filing fee).
  6. DENIAL OF HEARINGS IN TANGIBLE PERSONAL PROPERTY CASES IN  WHICH NO TAX RETURN IS FILED: 
    The Clerk may not grant any hearings in personal property cases with respect to which tax returns were not filed on or before the date specified in the VAB petition form for the current tax year.  Florida Statute 194.034(1)(f) prohibits the contesting of a personal property tax assessment unless and until a tax return is filed. The Clerk or the VAB attorney may extend said filing date on a case by case basis. 
  7. DENIAL OF HEARINGS ON EXEMPTION, "PORTABILITY"AND AGRICULTURAL CLASSIFICATION APPLICATIONS NOT TIMELY FILED WITH THE PROPERTY APPRAISER:
    Except as otherwise provided by statute or the Department of Revenue (the "DOR") Rules (see "2" and "4" above), the Clerk may not grant any hearings for exemptions, "portability"or agricultural classifications, the initial applications for which were not timely filed with the Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser (see F.S. 193.155, 193.461 and 196.011).  This procedure is inapplicable to automatic exemption renewals not granted due to technical changes in ownership and which are deemed "timely filed" pursuant to "1" above.
  8. REJECTING THE USE OF POSTMARKS ON PETITIONS TO DETERMINE "FILING" DATES:
    For purposes of filing documents with the Board, including petitions, the word "Filed" means "Received by the Clerk".  Postmark dates are not recognized as a means to identify timely filed petitions.
  9. FILING FEES: 
    The Board has specifically authorized the imposition of the maximum   filing fees for VAB petitions as may be allowed by law from time to time.  This authorization will remain in effect until such time as the Board may amend or rescind the same.
  10. NOTICE OF HEARING: 
    The Clerk is required to adhere to F.S. 194.032(2) and DOR Rules 12D-9.015(13) and 12D-9.019(3) with respect to notifying petitioners of hearings.  Said Statute and Rules essentially provide that notices of hearings must be furnished in writing and received by taxpayers at least twenty five calendar days prior to the hearing.  The Clerk is deemed to have prima facie complied if such notice is mailed thirty days prior to the hearing date.  The Clerk is authorized to enlarge the time within which notices are given, thus affording taxpayers more time than is required by statute and/or DOR Rule (i.e. as the VAB caseload and scheduling procedures permit) if it is deemed desirable to do so.
  11. SPECIAL MAGISTRATE SANCTIONS: 
    The Clerk is authorized, with advice of counsel, to impose reasonable sanctions against special magistrates who do not administer their caseloads properly or with due diligence.  Such sanctions are intended to specifically include refraining from paying or scheduling a special magistrate while prior work remains unfinished.
  12. RULES FOR SUBMISSION OF DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE:  The Clerk is authorized to promulgate reasonable rules and procedures for taxpayers to submit documentary evidence to the Property Appraiser prior to VAB hearings, as mandated by Section 194.034(1)(d), Florida Statutes.  In addition, certain evidence exchange rules are now in effect under F.S. 194.011(4) and the Clerk is authorized to adopt such procedures as may be necessary  or appropriate to implement and comply with such rules, and to coordinate them with the Board's previously existing reschedule guidelines described in III below.
  13. SPECIAL MAGISTRATE COMPUTER INPUT PROCEDURES: 
    The Clerk is authorized to implement procedures requiring special magistrates to directly input their findings of fact and recommendations into the VAB computer system; and to provide training and otherwise assist special magistrates in developing their proficiency with the VAB computer system.
  14. SPECIAL MAGISTRATE APPROVAL OF PROPERTY APPRAISER'S CORRECTION OF ERRORS: 
    The VAB special magistrates are empowered to review and authorize the retroactive correction of errors to the current year's tax assessments by the Property Appraiser in accordance with DOR Rule 12D-8.021(7)-(9).  The Clerk may schedule all such cases for hearing before special magistrates; and may determine that the approval of a correction of error by a special magistrate shall be deemed to constitute Board approval of such correction (i.e. without further Board action) for purposes of officially implementing such correction under DOR  Rule 12D-8.021.  The Clerk is further specifically authorized to receive and process all petitions timely filed by taxpayers relative to these assessment corrections.  Except for good cause shown by taxpayers,  all such petitions must be filed no later than 25 days after the Property Appraiser gives written notice of the proposed change under DOR Rule 12D-8.021(9).

II. THE RETENTION AND/OR REFUND OF FILING FEES PAID ON ERRONEOUS OR DUPLICATE PETITIONS:

The Clerk is specifically authorized to retain and/or refund any filing fees erroneously paid by taxpayers on filed petitions, including specifically any petitions on which excessive filing fees were paid.  Such refunds will be made upon petitioner's written request and proof of original payment by copy of cancelled check (i.e. front and back) or clerk's receipt reflecting cash payment.

The Clerk is further authorized to retain and not refund any filing fees paid on duplicate petitions filed on the same parcel of property by different persons, processing only the single petition ultimately authorized by the owner and validated by the VAB staff.

III. RESCHEDULING GUIDELINES

The Clerk shall adhere to the following guidelines when rescheduling appearances before the special magistrates, denying all requests for any other reasons.

  1. There was a recent death within the immediate family of the petitioner.
  2. The petitioner suffered an (attestable) emergency medical problem precluding his/her scheduled appearance before the Board.  Notification to the Board shall be made prior to the scheduled date of hearing, if possible.
  3. Proper notification was not afforded the petitioner, pursuant to the provisions of DOR Rules 12D-9.015(13) and 12D-9.019(3).
  4. A clerical error was made by the county's staff that precluded the appearance of the petitioner before the Board as scheduled. 
  5. The Petitioner or his/her agent is scheduled to appear before another governmental entity on the same date and within the same time frame as he/she has been scheduled to appear before the Board.  This shall not apply to hearings conflicting with other scheduled value adjustment boards hearings if the ruested rescheduling would unduly impede or burden the VAB administrative process.
  6. The petitioner's scheduled appearance falls on a religious holiday.
  7. Failure to afford petitioner reasonable notice of requirement to have the professional appraiser who prepared the petitioner's appraisal report to be physically present at the hearing to testify.  This presupposes that such appraisal report is otherwise admissible as evidence by reason of its prior submission to the Property Appraiser for his examination under F.S. 194.034(1)(d).  "Reasonable notice" for purposes of this guideline shall be deemed to be written or telephonic notice given at least five days prior to the scheduled hearing.
  8. Petitioner is unable to submit an appraisal report or other documentary evidence to the Property Appraiser prior to the scheduled hearing, if reasonable cause exists for failure to do so.  The Clerk, upon advice of counsel, shall make such determination on a case by case basis and shall consider the administrative burden involved in rescheduling any particular hearing (including the overall caseload, anticipated hearing completion dates and the effect of any change on the remaining schedule).  The Clerk shall also consider the application of any relevant rules promulgated pursuant to the authority granted under "I. 12" above. 
  9. Petitioners' written requests for rescheduling under F.S. 194.032(2).
  10. The Property Appraiser fails to comply with the evidence exchange rules under F.S.194.011(4) and the petitioner requests a reschedule as a consequence.
  11. Such other reasons as may be determined by the Clerk or the VAB attorney to constitute good cause for rescheduling under DOR Rule 12D-9.019(4).
IV. APPEALS OF DECISIONS RENDERED BY THE SPECIAL MAGISTRATES

The Board will not accommodate any request from petitioners or the Property Appraiser to review de novo the decisions of the special magistrates.  The Board is authorized to appoint special magistrates for the purpose of taking testimony and making recommendations to the Board, which recommendations the Board may act upon without further hearing.

Since 1977, the Board has declined to hear de novo appeals from the decisions of the special magistrates either from taxpayers or the Property Appraiser, directing all such appeals to the Circuit Court.  The Circuit Court has original jurisdiction of all matters relating to property taxation (including appeals from Board decisions), venue being in the county where the property is located (F.S. 194.171).

V. EMPLOYMENT OF SPECIAL MAGISTRATES

The Board has hired appraiser special magistrates and attorney special magistrates to conduct hearings and make recommendations to the Board for the current tax year.  The compensation payable to such special magistrates was previously fixed by the Board at a flat rate of $700.00 per eight hour hearing session or "board" (including time devoted to completing any related paperwork and computer entries), and/or $87.50 per hour payable under the following special circumstances:

  1. "Overtime" payable for any additional services rendered at the specific request and as approved by the VAB staff.
  2. Orientation and Training of special magistrates requiring additional time to prepare for or continue their VAB service.
  3. Compensation paid for partial hearing sessions or "boards" requiring less than a full day of service.
  4. "Overtime" payable for additional time devoted to complete "board" agendas and related paperwork and computer entries due to an excessive number of cases scheduled by the VAB staff (e.g. disproportionate  number of complex cases scheduled for one board), computer  malfunctions or any other reason deemed by the staff to be beyond the control of the special magistrate and otherwise justifying the payment of additional compensation.

The Board has officially ratified and confirmed the previous hiring of the special magistrates for the current tax year, as well as the foregoing terms and conditions applicable to the payment of compensation for such service.  Further, the Board has adopted the foregoing special magistrate compensation schedule on a continuing basis (i.e. to be applied in future years), until such time as the Board may, in its absolute discretion, determine otherwise.  In addition, the Board has retained the power to schedule and/or discharge special magistrates in its absolute discretion, with or without cause.

VI. FORMS USED BY VAB

The forms used by the VAB can be viewed and obtained by clicking on the top right hand side of this page under Value Adjustment Board.