Value Adjustment Board
The Highlands County Value Adjustment Board (VAB) is established by Chapter 194, Florida Statutes, to hear appeals of the Property Appraiser's determinations with regard to property exemptions, classifications, portability, and valuations through petition filing and scheduled quasi-judicial hearings.
The VAB consists of two county commissioners, one school board member and two citizen members--one citizen member who has homesteaded property, resides in Highlands County and is appointed by the Highlands County Commission, and a second citizen member who owns a business occupying commercial space located within the Highlands County School District, appointed by the School Board. The VAB employs special magistrates who are either attorneys with property law experience or certified appraisers to hear taxpayer petitions.
Exemption / Portability / Classifications
The deadline to file applications with the Property Appraiser for exemptions, portability, and classifications is March 1st of each year. Although the major categories are Homestead, Seniors Homestead, Agriculture, and Non-Profit, there are many exemptions and classifications, each with specific statutory requirements. If you missed this deadline and would like to file a petition with the VAB, it is recommended that you contact the Property Appraiser's office at (863) 402-6659 for more detailed information before you file. The statutory deadline for accepting petitions for exemptions, portability, and classifications is twenty-five (25) days after the mailing of TRIM (Truth in Millage) notices in mid-August by the Property Appraiser's office. The VAB must receive the petition by the 25th day; having it postmarked by the 25th day is not sufficient.
Denial of an Exemption, Portability, or Classification
If the Property Appraiser denies your application for an exemption, portability, or classification, and you wish to appeal that decision to the VAB, you may file a petition with the VAB within 30 days of the Property Appraiser's mailing of the notice of denial. These notices are usually mailed in June. The petition must be received by the VAB, not just postmarked by the 30th day.
There is no fee for the appeal of the denial of a homestead exemption; however, there is a non-refundable filing fee of $15.00 for the appeal of all other classifications and exemptions, including portability.
Truth in Millage Notices, which are proposed tax bills and are also referred to as TRIM Notices, are mailed to all Highlands County taxpayers in mid-August by the Property Appraiser. Upon receipt of this notice, any taxpayer wishing to appeal the assessed value of his/her property may file a petition with the VAB. The statutory deadline for accepting petitions for assessed value is twenty-five (25) days after the mailing of TRIM (Truth in Millage) notices in mid-August by the Property Appraiser's office. The VAB must receive the petition by the 25th day; having it postmarked by the 25th day is not sufficient.
Informal Meeting with Property Appraiser
Florida Statutes authorizes a taxpayer to meet informally with the Property Appraiser to discuss any matter he/she disputes. If the taxpayer resolves the matter of a VAB petition with the Property Appraiser, the taxpayer should immediately notify the Value Adjustment Board that the petition is withdrawn by submitting a Withdrawal Form that is available on this website under "Forms."
Petitions to VAB
If you wish to file a petition to the VAB, the required forms may be acquired at the Property Appraiser's office, 560 S. Commerce Avenue, Sebring FL 33870. Petitions are also available online from this website under "Forms." Completed petitions should be filed with the VAB. There is a non-refundable $15.00 filing fee with checks made payable to Highlands County Board of County Commissioners, which must be paid before the petition is considered "filed." The VAB is open Monday through Friday (except holidays) from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and is located in Room 228, Highlands County Courthouse, 590 S. Commerce Avenue, Sebring, FL 33870.
Good Cause Hearings
The Clerk may accept, but not schedule for hearing a VAB petition filed after the statutory deadline has expired. A petition and a non-refundable $15.00 filing fee may be submitted to the VAB or its designee for a good cause determination if the petition is accompanied by a written explanation with proof of the extraordinary circumstances which delayed the filing. If there is a determination that the taxpayer has shown good cause for missing the deadline, a hearing will be scheduled.
All hearings are quasi-judicial, and everyone appearing before the special magistrate may be required to testify under oath. The type of appeal will determine the type of information, documents, and/or evidence that needs to be furnished before the hearing. It is the taxpayer's responsibility to furnish whatever is needed at the required time. Evidence exchange is governed by Florida Administrative Code Rule 12D9.110.
If someone will be representing a petitioner at the hearing, and the representative wants to receive confidential taxpayer information on the petitioned property from the Property Appraiser, the representative must have written authorization from the taxpayer. This also applies to immediate family members if their names are not included on the deed.
Please note that if the taxpayer does not appear for his/her hearing in person or by representative, the petition will be considered uncontested and the special magistrate shall not proceed with the hearing. The petition shall be considered as settled or withdrawn.
Some waiting should be expected, so you may wish to bring a book or a magazine. For this reason, we discourage bringing children to the hearings.