Taxpayers who file Value Adjustment Board petitions in 2011 must now make sure that they pay their taxes before they become delinquent. The newly-enacted Fla. Stat. 194.014, which took effect on July 1, 2011, requires taxpayers who file VAB petitions to pay all non ad valorem taxes and at least 75% of their ad valorem taxes before they become delinquent. Likewise, taxpayers who challenge the denial of an exemption or classification or a determination that their improvements were substantially complete must pay all non ad valorem taxes and the amount of ad valorem taxes that they admit in good faith to be owing. In Florida, property taxes become delinquent if not paid by April 1st of the next year. Thus, if a taxpayer fails to pay their 2011 property taxes by April 1, 2012, the VAB is required to automatically deny their petition on that property.
What is not clear from the new statute is whether a taxpayer’s failure to pay its taxes before they become delinquent will also result in the dismissal of cases pending before the VAB from prior years. Fla. Stat. 194.171(5), which applies to property tax cases in circuit court, requires the court to dismiss all pending cases if the taxes on the property in question become delinquent in any future tax year. In some larger Florida counties, VAB cases are sometimes not resolved until several years after they are filed. Thus, depending on how the statute is interpreted by the VABs, taxpayers whose taxes become delinquent in those counties could risk having all of their prior years’ pending VAB cases denied.
There is one silver lining for taxpayers, though. The new statute also provides that, if a petitioner is entitled to a refund due to the granting of their VAB petition, the amount of taxes overpaid will accrue interest at the rate of 12% per year from the date the taxes would have become delinquent.