Miami-Dade County is mailing out about 1 million property tax notices this week, and inflation may be behind some bad news inside the government-issued envelopes.
The state cap on increases to a primary residence’s taxable value has risen to its highest level since 2012, allowing property owners to feel a bit more of the tax pinch that comes with real estate assessments that are 8 percent higher countywide than they were a year ago.
“We’ve gotten used to these very low inflationary rates,” said Lazaro Solis, deputy property appraiser in Miami-Dade. “But if you go back 20 years, the rate was always over 3 percent. So the cap was pretty constant at 3 percent.”
Taxable values wouldn’t go up that high on primary residences. Florida law limits increases to 3 percent or to the rate of inflation — whichever is lower. That’s the key calculation for 2017, since a recovered economy has ramped up prices, which in turn drive the inflation rate.
During the last two years, inflation didn’t cross the 1 percent threshold. This year the rate hit 2.1 percent, allowing double the increase in taxable values on primary — or “homesteaded” — residences and creating more room for higher tax bills even if local governments and school boards lower tax rates.
That’s the case this year, with almost every municipality in Miami-Dade recording some drop in the tax rate. That applies not only to city tax rates but also the rates charged countywide by Florida, Miami-Dade and the school board. Of the 35 municipalities — including the unincorporated areas outside of city limits that rely on the county for local services — 25 have tax-rate drops that are smaller than the 2.1 percent inflation rate. Only one city, North Bay Village, shows a combined increase in the tax rate, from $21.50 for every $1,000 of taxable value to $22.06.
This week, Miami-Dade’s Property Appraiser Office mailed hundreds of thousands of “TRIM” notices, the yearly preview of an owner’s likely tax bill. The actual amount will be set once local governments, including the County Commission, set their 2018 property tax rates before the start of the next fiscal year on Oct. 1.
The County Commission and city councils have already established maximum property tax (or “millage”) rates for the year, and the Truth In Millage notices show the impact on taxes if those proposed rates take effect next year. The source of the largest tax rate in the county, the Miami-Dade school system, dropped its tax rate 4.6 percent and the county kept its rate flat.