Valuation Adjustment Board Hearings are the place you go to negotiate your real estate tax bill in Florida. Each county has a hearing officer who will listen to the evidence proffered by the tax assessor and the tax payer. Historically, the burden of proof was upon the tax payer to disprove the value arrived at by the tax assessor. This changed a couple of years ago. I chose to hire a very accomplished real estate attorney who is also a hearing officer in a county in which we do not own property. She was able to negotiate with the tax assessor to reduce my tax burden by $575 per year. The cost was a modest $250 up front and a contingency fee of 35% of the tax savings. In my case, the total cost was $474. This equates to a 121% IRR and is the most profitable investment I made in all of 2011.

If you own property, I highly recommend you look at your tax bill and ask yourself, “Is the tax assessment truly what I would expect to receive if I had sold on January 1 of the year in which the taxes are levied.” If not, seek professional help.

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