TOP 10 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT ROAD TESTS

top 10 things to know about road tests

Getting your driver license for the first time is exciting! The last thing you want to have happen is to have your road test cancelled or postponed due to a misunderstanding of the rules and process.

So here are “10 Things to Know about Road Tests” from the Lee County Tax Collector.

  1. Road Tests are given by appointment only and slots open on a 60-day rolling basis. So, if you want to try to schedule a driving road test on your 16th birthday, and your birthday is on July 12, you can schedule an appointment starting on May 12th. Please cancel your appointment if you cannot make it, so others can book.
  2. Road Tests are currently offered at our North Fort Myers and South Fort Myers locations. We are working with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to approve road test routes at other locations, so stay tuned!
  3. Arrive 15 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment time.
  4. Read the Driving Test Instruction Sheet prior to your appointment so you know what is expected of you during the test.
  5. You must have your own vehicle with proof of valid registration to test. The Tax Collector’s Office does not provide testing vehicles. 
  6. Candidate must have proof of Florida Insurance. No proof of insurance means no test.
  7. If you are under 18, you must have a responsible adult who is 21 or older with you. If a responsible adult cannot be present, the Certification of Driving Experience of a Minor must be signed and notarized.
  8. If needed, you may bring an interpreter. The interpreter should be fluent in English and foreign language.
  9. The road test may be delayed, or need to be rescheduled, if there is inclement weather.
  10. Remain calm and obey all speed limits and traffic laws. There are no tricks on the test.

If you follow these “10 Things to Know,” you’ll be hitting the open road in no time!

2022 PROPERTY TAX RELIEF INFORMATION – HURRICANE IAN

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.

The Florida Department of Revenue has provided an example calculation for a residential property that was rendered uninhabitable.

Cape Coral office closed on Friday 12/16 due to State system outage

Due to a systems outage at the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, our Cape Coral office will be closed on Friday, December 16th. Customers with appointments may go to our office in North Fort Myers (15201 North Cleveland Avenue, North Fort Myers) or Downtown (2480 Thompson Street) where they will be assisted. Due to this movement of customers, we will not be able to take any walk-in customers at our Downtown, North or Cape locations today. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Who to contact with questions about your tax bill

Real estate property taxes, also referred to as real property taxes, are a combination of ad valorem taxes (assessed value of your real estate) and non-ad valorem taxes (services or infrastructure that affect your property).

The Property Appraiser is responsible for determining the value of all property within the county, as well as any exemptions.

Taxing Authorities, like the Board of County Commissioners, School District and Water Management District, adopt a budget and levy millage rates to fund the budget. That millage rate is applied to the taxable value of your property. Taxing Authorities also determine the cost of non-ad valorem assessments like fire services and solid waste services etc.

The Tax Collector is responsible for printing, mailing and collecting tax payments after the Property Appraiser and the Taxing Authorities certify the tax roll.

Now that you know who does what, here is a breakdown of who you should contact if you have questions about your 2022 Property Tax bill. Please make sure to read through all of the information to ensure you are contacting the agency that can best assist you.

Property Tax bills to be mailed November 23

On Wednesday, November 23rd, more than 538,000 property tax bills will be mailed to home and business owners in Lee County. This information can be accessed online at LEETC.com.

These bills reflect the value of the property as of January 1, 2022, when Florida law required them to be assessed. They do not reflect any damage or destruction caused by Hurricane Ian.

Those whose property was completely destroyed or rendered uninhabitable by the Hurricane will receive an extension on both the tax deadline and the discount period under the Governor’s Executive Order 22-242. If property owners feel they qualify, they must contact the Property Appraiser’s Office at leepa.org or 239-533-6100. Those who meet the criteria will have until May 31, 2023, to pay their taxes, with a 4% discount in November, December and January, 3% in February, 2% in March and 1% in April.

“We know that many in our community have lost everything, and we are focused on helping them to make a path forward,” says Matt Caldwell, Lee County Property Appraiser. “It is important that those who have suffered damage contact my office so we can take your information and keep you informed about any actions that could provide tax relief.”

If a property owner does not qualify under the Governor’s Executive Order, the Tax Collector has extended the 4% discount period until December 31, 2022, with taxes due March 31, 2023. Typically, that level of discount ends in November. Those paying in January will have a 2% discount, and those paying in February will see a 1% discount.

“We know that nearly every home and business owner in Lee County were affected by the storm and we are doing everything that we can to help them,” shares Noelle Branning, Lee County’s Tax Collector. “We are also working to be thoughtful of our Taxing Authorities whose resources have been depleted as they work toward recovery in the wake of Hurricane Ian.”

This year’s property tax collections are expected to be $2,060,969,659 before discount and any potential action by the Legislature which may come during a Special Session in December. Monies collected are distributed by the Tax Collector to the taxing authorities in Lee County which pay for many services, including fire and rescue, law enforcement protection, and infrastructure such as schools, roads, and utilities.

By law, the Tax Collector is required to mail and collect property tax bills. Property taxes are payable anytime between now and March 31, 2023, unless you qualify for an extension under the Executive Order.

Property owners whose property taxes are paid through an escrow account should contact their mortgage company for information about the company’s plan for remitting escrowed property tax payments.

In the News: 2022 Property Tax Update

Thank you to our area media partners for their coverage of the important changes to 2022 Property Taxes due to the impact of Hurricane Ian.

November 17, 2022

FOX 4 – What you need to know as property tax bills arrive this month
FORT MYERS BEACH OBSERVER – Tax bills will include extensions for discounts, payments
WINK NEWS – Lee County property tax bills to arrive in the mail next week
NBC 2 – SWFL residents worrying about home value plummeting after Hurricane Ian

November 16, 2022

SANIBEL CAPTIVA ISLAND REPORTER – Property Tax Bill Deadline extended in Lee County

November 15. 2022

NORTH FORT MYERS NEIGHBOR – The Chamber Luncheon is back 

First Lee Tag Agency to close 11/5 & 11/12 for repairs

First Lee Tag Agency, located at Grand Bay Plaza 18990 South Tamiami Trail Suite 5, Fort Myers, is a privately owned business operating under the authority of the Lee County Tax Collector.

Due to damage sustained during Hurricane Ian, FLTA will need to temporarily close its office on Saturday, November 5 and Saturday, November 12 in order to make needed repairs.

Those with appointments will be contacted to reschedule.

Weekly hours remain the same (Monday – Friday 9am – 5:30pm) and Saturday hours should resume on November 19.

Property Tax Bill Timeline

Typically, Lee County property owners receive property tax bills the last week of October. However, because of Hurricane Ian, this year’s tax roll will instead open in early November for collection of payments, with tax bills being mailed later in the month. The 4% discount usually offered during the month of November, will be extended into December due to the delayed mailing, with a firm date set once the bills have been mailed.

Once the tax roll is open for collection, customers will be able to access and print their bills online or have them emailed, by visiting LEETC.com, clicking “Online Service Center,” then “Property Tax” and entering a name, address, or account number.

On October 20, 2022, Governor Ron DeSantis signed Executive Order 22-242 to extend property tax payment deadlines for those whose homes were destroyed or rendered uninhabitable by the Hurricane. He is working with Legislators to call a Special Session before the end of the year to address property tax obligations.

If your property was destroyed or rendered uninhabitable, please contact the Lee County Property Appraiser’s office at 239-533-6100 or visit their website.

Have a boat or car on your property that doesn’t belong to you?

If you have a vehicle, boat, trailer, ATV or motorcycle that does not belong to you but is on your property because of Hurricane Ian, there is now a way to report it.

If there is a vessel in the water that does not belong to you, you can report it by calling the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Hurricane Ian Vessel Hotline at 850-488-5600. Callers should be prepared to provide the registration number, current location and a description of the boat.

If the vehicle, vessel, trailer, ATV or motorcycle is on land, you can call 850-961-2002 or go to IanDebrisCleanup.com to report it. You will need to provide the registration number, current location and a detailed description of the property.

If you own a vehicle, vessel, motorcycle, trailer or ATV that has been missing since the storm, please report it by calling 850-961-2002 or through the IanDebrisCleanup.com website. The hope is to match the missing property with the proper owner to hasten our area’s recovery after the storm.

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