On December 16 Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law section 197.3181 Florida Statutes which provides for a prorated refund of property taxes for residential dwellings rendered uninhabitable by Hurricane Ian. The following information was provided by the Florida Department of Revenue to help homeowners understand the statute. This information is also available as a printable PDF.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE:
To be eligible for a partial property tax refund, the property must be determined “uninhabitable.” Under s. 197.3181 F.S., “’uninhabitable’ means the loss of use and occupancy of a residential improvement for the purpose for which it was constructed resulting from damage to or destruction of, or from a condition that compromises the structural integrity of, the residential improvement which was caused by Hurricane Ian or Hurricane Nicole during the 2022 calendar year.“ The statute provides that if a residential improvement is rendered uninhabitable for 30 days or more due to Hurricane Ian or Hurricane Nicole, the property owner may apply for a refund of a portion of their property taxes levied and paid for in 2022, for the time the property was uninhabitable.
HOW TO APPLY:
To begin the application process, home owners should visit the Lee County Property Appraiser at www.leepa.org to fill out the Application for Hurricane Ian or Hurricane Nicole Tax Refund form.
On the form, the homeowner must state the number of days the residence was uninhabitable and must sign a perjury statement attesting to it.
For the purposes of determining uninhabitability, the homeowner must provide supporting documentation, including, but not limited to, utility bills, insurance information, contractors’ statements, building permit applications, or building inspection certificates of occupancy.
For Hurricane Ian, the maximum number of days in 2022 that can be claimed is 95 days, and for Hurricane Nicole, the maximum number of days is 52 days.
The homeowner must submit the application and documentation to the Lee County Property Appraiser between January 1, 2023, and April 3, 2023. (The law provides a due date of April 1, 2023; however, as this date is a Saturday, the date is extended to Monday April 3, 2023.) The application may be submitted before or after 2022 property taxes are paid.
Homeowners are encouraged to submit the application as soon as possible. A homeowner who fails to file an application by April 3, 2023, waives their claim for a tax refund.
WHO DECIDES IF I AM ELIGIBLE?
The Property Appraiser is responsible for approving or denying a homeowner’s eligibility for a refund based on the application.
No later than June 1, 2023, the property appraiser must either notify the applicant of ineligibility or notify both the applicant and tax collector if the applicant is eligible for a refund.
Applicants found ineligible may file a petition with the value adjustment board requesting that such a refund be granted. The petition must be filed with the value adjustment board on or before the 30th day following the issuance of the notice by the property appraiser.
IF I AM APPROVED, HOW WILL I RECEIVE MY REFUND?
Refunds are calculated and processed by the Tax Collector and are to be issued upon timely payment of 2022 property taxes by the homeowner.
IF APPROVED, HOW IS THE REFUND AMOUNT CALCULATED?
The refund amount is calculated by applying the percent change in value to the number of days the residential improvement was uninhabitable. The percent change in value is found by subtracting the January 1, 2022 just value of the residential improvement from the January 1, 2022 just value of the entire parcel to establish the post-disaster value and then calculating the percent change in value.
Under s. 197.3181 F.S., a residential improvement that is uninhabitable has no value, although the land and other improvements, as defined in the statute, do have value. The statute specifies that “a residential improvement does not include a structure that is not essential to the use and occupancy of the residential dwelling or house, including, but not limited to, a detached utility building, detached carport, detached garage, bulkhead, fence, or swimming pool, and does not include land.”
For all approved refund applications, the property appraiser is required to provide the tax collector with the January 1, 2022, just value of the residential improvement (as defined above), the number of days during 2022 that the residential improvement was uninhabitable, the post-disaster just value of the residential parcel, and the percent change in value applicable to the residential parcel.