FAQ: There are five primary factors that influence the taxes each citizen pays:
Property owners must pay property taxes based on the values of their homes or businesses. These values are determined by the Property Appraiser who is a Constitutional Officer of the County. His purpose is to establish an equitable value for all properties in the County.
There are several taxing authorities that have the legal authority to tax citizens for services they provide. These include the Board of County Commissioners, Pinellas County Schools, municipalities, water management districts, the Juvenile Welfare Board, community service districts and various fire districts. It is important to note that the Board of County Commissioners is a separate taxing authority from the others and is only responsible for a portion (approximately 27%) of the overall taxes people pay (see Tax Rate table for an illustration). The various taxing authorities must establish a tax rate (or millage) that allows them to collect the resources necessary to operate their organizations for the coming year.
Homesteaded properties are properties owned as primary residences. To qualify for homestead, one must meet the residency requirements and fill out a form from the Property Appraiser’s office. Once homestead is established, the first $25,000 in property value is not taxed. With the passage of Amendment 1 in January, 2008, an additional exemption will be automatically applied on the assessed value between $50,000 and $75,000. It does not apply to school taxes. After being under the homestead for a year, a person may qualify for the “Save Our Homes” cap which caps the rate of growth on that person’s property tax to 3% per year or the rate of inflation (whichever is less). There are other optional exemptions throughout the County for disabled residents, widows and senior citizens. Amendment 1 also provides for "portability" with respect to the savings afforded by the Save Our Homes cap. For more information on these, please contact the Property Appraisers Exemption Department at (727) 464-3294 to see if you qualify.
One mill is equal to $1 for every $1,000 of assessed property value. For example, on a $100,000 property, one mill would generate $100.
Once the proposed millage rates are established by a vote of each of the taxing authorities, the Property Appraiser mails a TRIM (Truth in Millage) notice to all property owners. The TRIM notice provides an estimate of the value of that person’s property, lists all of the taxing authorities and provides an overall total estimated property tax for that property owner. The TRIM notices are mailed out in August pursuant to state statute prior to the September passage of the budget. Each taxing authority must either pass the proposed budget or reduce it from that point on.
Who are the Constitutional Officers and what are their primary duties?
The Florida Constitution establishes five "Constitutional Officers" for each county. These are the Sheriff, Clerk of the Court, Property Appraiser, Supervisor of Elections and Tax Collector.
The requirements for each of these Constitutional Officers are defined by state law and often allow little flexibility or discretion in how they are implemented. For more information on the Constitutional Officers, click the links above.
Are there other elected officials who are not Constitutional Officers of the County?
Yes, there are several elected officials who serve the county in state offices that are not considered “Constitutional Officers” of the county. In our criminal justice system, the people are represented by three separate but equally important groups, the Public Defender who represents indigent defendants, the State Attorney who prosecutes the offenders, and the various county and circuit judges who preside in the County and Circuit Courts.
How does the County decide where to spend my tax dollars?
There are several factors that determine where tax dollars are spent, such as constitutional and state mandates, programs essential to reducing future costs, the rising cost of insurance, the County’s strategic plan and strategic focus areas, input from citizens during the budget process and other necessities at the time of budget formulation.