Florida’s Property Tax System

picture of noelle branning and her signature on a blue background with a cityscape outline

While it might not be the most exciting topic to discuss at a dinner party with friends, Florida’s Property Tax System is something that’s worth understanding to help manage your finances and make informed decisions.

So, let’s dive right in.

The cycle starts fresh every year, on January 1 when Property Appraisers in Florida determine the assessed value of each parcel of property in their respective counties.

Three months later, on March 1, applications for exemptions that can reduce property taxes are due to the Property Appraiser. Be sure to check with the Property Appraiser to see if you’re eligible for the homestead exemption.

Between March and July there’s a flurry of activity as Property Appraisers certify the total taxable value of all the properties in the county. That information is then shared with the local taxing (also known as levying) authorities (i.e., County Commission and City Councils) to set their proposed millage rates.

In August, Property Appraisers mail the Notices of Proposed Property Taxes (TRIM notices) to all property owners.  Yours should have arrive a couple of weeks ago. These notices are not bills, but instead provide information about the value of a property, approved exemptions, and the amount that will be owed based on the proposed millage rates. If you have a question about your values or exemptions, now is the time to ask the Property Appraiser.

From September – early October, local taxing authorities hold public meetings to gather input before voting on a final millage rate. If you have questions or want to have input in the tax rate setting process, you will need to attend the public hearings. (A list of dates and locations is listed on your TRIM notice.)

Once that process is complete, the Property Appraiser certifies the tax rolls and sends them to the Tax Collector who is statutorily responsible for printing and mailing the tax bills in late October, early November. (You can also download your tax bill or sign up to have it emailed to you directly.)

Your annual taxes are determined using the following calculation:

  • Your property value, minus any exemptions, equals the taxable value of your home.
  • The taxable value is then multiplied by the millage rates set by taxing authorities to determine your Ad-Valorem Taxes.
  • The Ad-Valorem Taxes are added to the Non-Ad Valorem assessments, which are based on services, not the value of your property. Think storm water or solid waste assessments.
  • The combined total determines your annual taxes.

Tax payments are due on March 31, but if you pay early, you receive a discount. Taxes paid in November receive a 4% discount, December is a 3% discount, January is 2% and February is 1%.

Once tax payments are received, the Tax Collector is responsible for distributing the dollars to the taxing authorities to pay for services like fire and rescue, law enforcement protection, schools, roads, utilities, and parks.

Come January, the cycle starts all over again.

So now, if your dinner party gets boring, you have something to talk about!

Noelle Branning
Lee County Tax Collector

LCTC Expansion Update, Summer 2023

Tax Collector logo with skyline, palm trees and houseOver the past few years Lee County has experienced tremendous growth and all indicators point to that continuing. In response, we have been working with Lee County to create plans for expansion.

In early 2024, we will move from our current location in Lehigh Acres to larger office space at the corner of Homestead and Milwaukee. The new service center will be 9,640 square feet with 24 stations and be the first to have a children’s area with small activities. The design will be fresh and modern, getting away from the “government looking” office space. Construction has begun, and when complete, we will join the Supervisor of Elections, Department of Health, and the Lee County Clerk of Courts in this building.

In 2024 we were also planning on opening a new location in Estero at the Miromar Outlets. Lee County was negotiating that contract as the space was being leased to them. Unfortunately, due to rising remodeling costs, the contract between Lee County and Miromar Outlets was terminated, which means we will not be opening a service center at that location.

Our office is committed to creating an infrastructure that will enable us to meet the growing demands of our customers and continue to excel in our industry. We are currently re-evaluating the needs of our community for future locations and will continue to share updates as we have them.

Hurricane Idalia Information

All Lee County Tax Collector locations will open tomorrow, Thursday, August 31 at 9:00 a.m. for regular business hours.

Customers who had appointments on the days we were closed (Tuesday and Wednesday) are invited to reschedule or come to any service center for assistance. If visiting a service center without an appointment, please check to ensure that the office you plan to visit offers the service you need.

In addition, many services can be completed online at www.leetc.com/pay-online.

Thank you for your understanding as we made decisions based on the safety of our team and customers. Our thoughts are with our neighbors to the north as they begin to assess the damage from this major storm.

What is a TRIM Notice?

August in Florida is known for heat… humidity… and of course, TRIM notices!

TRIM Notices are required to be mailed no later than August 25 to all property owners. But what is a TRIM notice and why is it important?

It’s origin dates back to 1980 when the Florida Legislature passed the Truth in Millage (TRIM) Act. That act required all Property Appraisers to mail property owners a notice of proposed taxes. TRIM notices include information about:

  • The current “Just Value” of your property
  • Approved exemptions
  • The governmental entities responsible for your taxes and
  • The amount you owe each entity based on the value of your property

TRIM notices are mailed after proposed millage rates (tax rates) are set, but before taxing authorities take a final vote. That’s why the notice provides public
hearing dates, as well as contact information for each taxing authority, in case you would like to provide input before a final vote is taken.

TRIM notices are also important because they give you time to ask questions about the value of your property or the exemptions approved for the property.
They also provide information on how to appeal the property’s value or a denial of exemption. Questions related to property values and exemptions on TRIM
notices should be directed to the Property Appraiser.

Something else that’s very important? TRIM notices are NOT A BILL. Every year we get people coming into our offices to try and pay their TRIM notice. These
are for information only; nothing needs to be paid until you receive your official tax bill which is mailed in late October.

And speaking of Tax Bills, your tax bill will not match your TRIM notice. In most cases your tax bill will be higher. That’s because TRIM notices do NOT include
Non-Ad Valorem taxes, which are assessments based on services (not property values) provided to you. Examples include stormwater or solid waste
assessments. Thus, your TRIM notice will never match your tax bill because your tax bill will include those assessments.

So, when you receive your TRIM notice from the Property Appraiser, please open it and read it carefully. I hope this information is helpful and explains why
TRIM notices are important and how they differ from your tax bill.

Thank you for allowing me and my team to serve you. It is an honor.

Noelle Branning
Lee County Tax Collector

Lee County Tax Collector Named a Local Government Champion by AWS

Tax Collector and CIO receiving AWS awardThe Lee County Tax Collector’s (LCTC) Office has been honored as an Amazon Web Services (AWS) Local Government Champion for its use of AWS services to transform the customer experience in the agency’s call center.

In FY22, the LCTC call center received over 350,000 phone calls. External feedback suggested improvements were needed to better serve customers. LCTC turned to AWS to improve productivity, enhance reporting and feedback tools, and provide flexibility.

“Working with AWS has changed the game for our customers, and for us,” explains Noelle Branning, Lee County Tax Collector. “The number of customers we have been able to help has increased, while the wait times have decreased. Plus, we can now track data to help us continually improve and provide 5-star service to our customers.”

“AWS is proud to recognize Lee County Tax Collector as a luminary of state and local government technology,” said Kim Majerus, Vice President of Global Education and U.S. State and Local Government at AWS.  “Noelle Branning and her team saw an opportunity to innovate on behalf of the citizens of Lee County using technology and used it to transform the services they provide to the public.”

Other innovations launched by the Lee County Tax Collector in the last year include: surrender plate drop boxes, Customer Care Carts, a new website, a digital customer service agent named Edison who can answer questions 24/7 at LeeTC.com, a queuing system where customers can check in on their phones and receive text notification updates about their visit, and a Smart Locker system to provide vehicle and vessel dealers next day turnaround on their title and registration documents.

Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday


water washing up on a dock

Hurricane season starts June 1 which means it’s time to review your hurricane plan and stock up on supplies. To help with that, consumers can purchase qualifying disaster preparedness supplies tax-free during the 2023 Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday. This year there are two exemption periods:

Saturday, May 27 – Friday, June 9
Saturday, August 26 – Friday, September 8

The Florida Department of Revenue has created a website that lists all of the exempt items and pricing. They also have a FAQ page with a printable list of items as well as phone number to call if you need additional information.

Intermittent Phone Outages

The Lee County Tax Collector is currently experiencing issues with our phone system causing delays in answering your calls.

We are working on fixing the problem and apologize for any inconvenience.

As an alternative, please visit LeeTC.com and ask Edison for answers to commonly asked questions.

You can also use the pay online” feature to renew your driver license or ID, renew your registration, pay your property taxes, or apply and pay for a local business tax receipt.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

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