February 19, 2001
Representatives of the Florida Department of Revenue will be visiting businesses in Seminole and Volusia Counties starting this week in an initiative to examine Florida counties' process for collecting property tax on business property.
The DOR staffers will be visiting approximately 30 businesses in each county to check the accuracy of county records of tangible personal property tax. Under Florida law, local governments levy tangible personal property tax on business equipment and fixtures, such as office furniture, cash registers, computer equipment, display shelving, manufacturing machinery, etc. The tangible personal property tax rate is the same tax rate as for property taxes on real property levied by a local government.
The DOR representatives will not be independently valuing business equipment or directly assessing businesses for tangible personal property tax, top DOR officials said. Also, DOR representatives will not review business records related to any other taxes. Instead, DOR staffers will be checking to determine that county tangible personal property tax rolls meet state standards for accuracy, uniformity and fairness.
"I am asking business owners in Volusia and Seminole Counties for their cooperation in this important task," said John Everton, program director for the DOR Property Tax Administration Program. "Businesses' cooperation in this review is vital to ensuring that tax rolls have been prepared in accordance with state law. If tax rolls are accurate and uniform, local governments can be confident they are collecting the taxes levied by law. Also - and just as important - businesses can be sure that the tax burden is spread fairly, so that some businesses are not competing at a disadvantage with other businesses."
Businesses are required to report the value of such items on an annual tangible personal property tax return, which is filed with each county's property appraiser. Property appraisers use this information to make up a county tangible personal property tax roll, which is used by county tax collectors to collect revenue to fund services such as public schools, law enforcement, and other local government services.
Under state law, county tangible personal property tax rolls are required to meet state standards of uniformity and accuracy. To ensure that county tangible personal property tax rolls meet these standards, the 2000 state budget provided additional resources to help DOR review county tangible personal property tax rolls. The Department also reviews county property tax rolls for real estate to ensure that real property has been assessed uniformly, accurately and in accordance with state standards.
Department officials plan to conduct reviews of the Seminole and Volusia County tangible personal property tax rolls in a pilot project that will conclude by the end of June 2001. Later this summer, DOR auditors will use lessons learned from the initial reviews in Seminole and Volusia Counties to begin reviewing tangible personal property tax rolls in about half of Florida's 67 counties, with the remaining counties' tax rolls coming up for review the following year. Thereafter, the Department will review tangible personal property tax rolls in each county approximately every other year, depending on the results of the tax roll reviews.
The Seminole and Volusia County property appraisers volunteered to take part in this pilot project in an effort to help the Department of Revenue refine its tax roll review process. "We appreciate the willingness of these local elected officials to take part in this initiative. Their cooperation will result in a more efficient, effective tax administration process for all Florida," Everton said.