Florida Special District Handbook Online:
Ad Valorem Taxes and Truth-in-Millage
Distinctions exist between ad valorem taxes, non-ad valorem assessments, and service charges.
Ad Valorem Taxes
Ad valorem (i.e., according to value) taxes are:
- Based on the assessed value of property
- A lien against property
- Measured in millage
- The sovereign right of local governments to raise public money
- Uniform throughout the jurisdiction
- Collected annually
- On the tax roll
- Often called "property taxes"
Non-ad valorem Assessments
Non-ad valorem assessments are:
Service charges are:
- Based on benefit to the property or the individual
- Not based on millage
- Not a lien against property
- Revenue contributions by individuals
- Enforced by local government
- Often collected monthly
- Not placed on the tax roll
Truth in Millage ("TRIM") Process
The forms referenced below can be downloaded from the Department of Revenue's Forms For County Officials web page.
The Truth-in-Millage Act of 1980 requires taxing authorities to inform taxpayers which governmental entity is responsible for the taxes levied and the tax liability amount they owe to each taxing entity.
Special districts with the authority to levy property taxes, but will not do so during the year, must comply with the following reporting requirement:
- Truth-in-Millage Form DR421 - Provide this form to the Department of Revenue annually by the 1st of November
Otherwise, the Truth-in-Millage process requires a series of public hearings for open discussion of budget and millage rates of taxing authorities. At these public hearings, elected officials must explain:
- How they computed tax figures
- Why they are seeking tax increases
The maximum tax levy allowed by a majority vote of the governing body is based on the rate of growth in per capita personal income in Florida. Ad valorem taxes may be increased at a greater rate only with a super majority or unanimous vote of the local government governing body. For more information, visit the Florida Department of Revenue's website:
On or about the 1st of June each year, the Department of Revenue, Property Tax Oversight Program notifies each taxing authority, by email, of any revisions to the Truth-in-Millage Manual of Instructions. The Truth-in-Millage Manual of Instructions explains the reporting requirements, filing deadlines, and hearing procedures and any form changes that are necessary for taxing authorities to comply with millage determination and maximum millage limitation legislation.
A dependent special district's ad valorem millage must be added to the millage of the county or municipality that created it. The combined total of their millage rates must not exceed the millage cap of the county or municipality. This is an important consideration in creating a dependent special district authorized to levy ad valorem taxes.
The Truth-in-Millage process begins on the day of certification of value (day 1), or the 1st of July, whichever comes later. The process ends when the special district submits the required certification documents to the Department of Revenue within 30 days after the final budget hearing and millage rate adoption. The following is a summary of this process:
The Property Appraiser certifies the tax roll or the Court certifies the interim tax roll using Form DR-420. The Budget Officer submits a tentative budget to the special district.
The special district informs the Property Appraiser of the following:
- The prior year millage rate
- The current year proposed millage rate
- The rolled-back rate
- The time, date, and location of the tentative budget hearing
If the special district fails to provide this information within the 35 days, it will be prohibited from levying a millage rate greater than the rolled-back rate for the year. The Property Appraiser will compute the rolled-back rate.
The Property Appraiser mails notices of proposed property taxes using DR-474 form (Truth-in-Millage notice). This serves as notice of the tentative millage and budget hearing for all special districts. If a review notice is issued pursuant to section 193.1142, Florida Statutes - Approval of assessment rolls, the Truth-in-Millage notice may not be sent until the assessment roll is approved.
The special district must hold a millage and budget hearing, no sooner than ten days following the mailed Truth-in-Millage notice, to do the following:
- Amend and adopt the tentative budget
- Re-compute the proposed millage rate
- Make a public announcement, if applicable, by what percentage the recomputed proposed millage exceeds the rolled-back rate
- Discuss the percentage increase in millage over the rolled back rate, if applicable
- Adopt the tentative millage rate
- Adopt the tentative budget by separate votes
If the tentative adopted millage rate exceeds the rate originally proposed (as presented in the Truth-in-Millage notice), the special district, at its expense, must mail a first-class notice of the new rate to all taxpayers in the special district.
Special districts must advertise final millage and budget hearing within 15 days of adoption of tentative millage and budget, following the requirements in section 200.065(3), Florida Statutes - Method of fixing millage.
The special district must hold the final budget hearing within two to five days after the advertisement appears in the newspaper. At this hearing, the special district must do the following:
- Discuss the percentage increase in millage over the rolled-back rate, if applicable
- Adopt the final millage rate, which must not exceed the millage rate tentatively adopted
- Adopt the final budget by separate votes.
Within 101 Days
Within three days after the final budget hearing, the special district must send the ordinance or resolution adopting the final millage rate to the Property Appraiser and Tax Collector and the Department of Revenue, Property Tax Oversight Program.
Before the extension of the tax roll, the Property Appraiser will notify the special district of the final adjusted value of the tax roll by sending Form DR-422 to the special district. Within three days of receiving this form, the special district must certify its final adopted millage rate to the Property Appraiser. Water management districts may administratively adjust the final adopted millage if a one-percent variance (+ or -) in certified values exists. All other special districts may administratively adjust the final adopted millage if a three-percent variance in certified values exists. Failure to certify the adjusted millage within three days negates the adjustment privilege.
Within 30 days after the final budget hearing, the special district must comply the Truth-in-Millage Compliance Package Report - Use the forms in this package to certify compliance with the Requirements of Chapter 200, Florida Statutes - Determination of Millage. Send the Truth-in-Millage Compliance Package Report, which must contain the following documents, to the Department of Revenue:
- Certification of Compliance, Form DR-487, signed
- A copy of the Certification of Taxable Value, Form DR-420
- A copy of the DR-420 TIF, Tax Increment Adjustment Worksheet, if applicable
- A copy of the DR-420DEBT, Certification of Voted Debt Millage, if applicable
- Ordinance or resolution adopting the final millage rate
- Ordinance or resolution adopting the final budget
- Final budget hearing advertisement - Notice of Proposed Tax Increase or Notice of Budget Hearing advertisement (entire page from newspaper)
- Proof of publication from the newspaper of the final budget hearing advertisement
- The budget summary advertisement (entire page from newspaper)
- Proof of publication from the newspaper of the budget summary advertisement
- DR-420MM, Maximum Millage Levy Calculation
- DR-487V, Vote Record for Final Adoption of Millage Levy
- A copy of the certification of final taxable value Form DR-422 if the Property Appraiser has issued it in time to be completed. If not, submit it later
The Department of Revenue will not deny a special district the right to the full Truth-in-Millage period. However, the time line for Truth-in-Millage compliance may be shortened if the following applies:
- Public hearings cannot be held sooner than ten days after the Truth-in-Millage notice
- A public hearing is held no sooner than two days and no later than five days after its advertisement in a newspaper
- The Property Appraiser coordinates the shortened time periods and gives written notice to all affected special districts
Contact Someone Who Can Answer Questions About Ad Valorem Taxes and Truth-in-Millage