Florida Ad Valorem Real Property Taxes
All real and personal property not exempt is subject to taxation. See Art. VII, Fla. Const. Those taxes constitute a first lien superior to all other liens on the property, F.S. 197.122(1), from the first day of January of the year in which the taxes become due. F.S. 192.042(1), 192.053. Most of the exemptions are set forth in Article VII, §§3 and 6, of the Florida Constitution and F.S. Chapter 196. The most frequently encountered exemption is that for homestead property. See F.S. 196.031.
A title examiner's opinion should show as liens all pertinent real estate taxes that are due but unpaid and all unpaid real estate taxes for the current year, even though those taxes are not yet due and payable.
Since January 1, 1964, most persons or organizations claiming exemption from taxation have had to file an annual application for that exemption. F.S. 196.011. By virtue of Chapter 85-315, §2, Laws of Florida, effective with the assessment rolls for 1986 and thereafter, the property appraiser may accept instead of the annual application a statement certified under oath that there has been no change in the residency and use of the property. F.S. 196.111.
An applicant for any exemption may file after the March 1 deadline if the applicant can document that failure to timely apply was the result of extenuating circumstances. See F.S. 196.011(8). F.S. 196.011(9) allows counties to waive the requirement of an annual application when no change in ownership, residency, or use of the property has occurred. The property appraiser may waive the March 1 deadline, but only for original or initial homestead exemption applications. F.S. 196.011(10).
Real property taxes are not due and payable until November 1 of the year of assessment. F.S. 197.333. They continue as liens superior to all others until paid. F.S. 197.122(1). Thus, the lien for ad valorem real property taxes is superior to the lien of a prior mortgage or other lien acquired previously.
Unpaid tangible personal property ad valorem taxes constitute a lien on the property assessed from January 1 of the year the taxes were levied until discharged by payment or barred by F.S. Chapter 95. See F.S. 192.053. Tangible personal property includes goods, chattels, and other articles of value. Such property is assessed at its just value except for personal property involved in construction work, such as fixtures, machinery, and equipment. See Tangible Personal Property Taxes Not Lien On Real Property, 16 The Fund Concept 65 (Sept. 1984).
When construction work is in progress, personal property is not valued until the construction is substantially completed; that is, when it is connected with the preexisting, taxable facility. The Fund Concept, supra; F.S. 192.001(11)(d), 192.042(2). Once personal property has become affixed to the realty as a fixture, its value is included in the just value of the real property for taxation. Taxes assessed against chattels attached to, but not a part of, the realty, however, constitute a lien against the chattels and not against the realty. For example, if machinery and equipment is installed under a lease providing that these items of personal property are not considered part of the building and are removable at termination of the lease, the machinery and equipment are taxed as personal property. See Illinois Grain Corp. v. Schleman, 114 So.2d 307 (Fla. 2d DCA 1959). If the chattels are part of the realty by agreement of the parties, however, the chattels are taxed as realty and are to remain with the property on termination of the lease. See Houdaille Industries, Inc. v. Markham, 440 So.2d 59 (Fla. 4th DCA 1983); The Fund Concept, supra.