Miamidade County Tax Appeals Board Should Finish 2008 Load By February
Written by Yudislaidy Fernandez on January 21, 2010
By Yudislaidy Fernandez
Miami-Dade’s Value Adjustment Board projects to finish 2008 tax appeals by February as it prepares to start hearing 2009’s 143,000-plus cases.
Since it’s taken the county about a year and a half to get through 2008 cases, with a bigger pile of tax appeals waiting in line this year the task won’t get any easier.
In preparation for a bigger appeals load, Miami-Dade Clerk Harvey Ruvin is looking into converting courthouse space previously used for live property auctions into hearing rooms for appeals now that auctions are held online.
Mr. Ruvin says he has to evaluate how many rooms the county would gain and the cost but thinks the space could be transformed into adaptable workspaces for the valuation board’s use.
The extra space could benefit the overwhelmed board, which now has eight hearing rooms, six in downtown Miami, one in South Dade and another in North Dade.
The appeals process has slowed down in recent years because the number of appeals has escalated dramatically due to the real estate market bust, as many property owners disagreed with their assessments and opted to appeal. Total tax appeal figures show a steady rise in filings in the past five years, with a sharp increase since 2007.
With a record-setting 102,295 tax appeals filed in 2008 — almost 40,000 more than in 2007 — the 33 magistrates assigned to hear cases have had their hands full. Each magistrate generally hears about 50 to 60 cases a day.
Rescheduling of cases has added to the delays, the valuation board reports.
As of December, the board says it still has 6,500 unscheduled cases for 2008, which it has to schedule and hear before moving on to 2009 cases. All taxpayers are entitled a free rescheduling as long as the request is submitted five days prior to the hearing date.
As the board prepares to transition from the 2008 to 2009 cases, it has also been hearing petitions from late filers to have their 2009 cases heard.
At least 2,000 late petitions have been filed, the board says, and it began hearing some of those late requests in December.
One factor that hasn’t contributed to the volume of tax appeal cases — tallied at 143,255 so far for 2009 — is condo associations filing appeals on behalf of multiple unit owners, as each condo’s cases are heard as one, the board explained. Condo owners who file their appeals independently are heard as individual cases.