Owners of homes damaged by Hurricane Ian and Nicole eligible for partial refunds of 2022 property taxes

Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office trying to spread the word to county residents

The Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office has been working to spread the news that homeowners may be eligible for partial refunds of their 2022 property tax payments if their residences were left uninhabitable for at least 30 days because of damage from Hurricane Ian or Hurricane Nicole.

The Florida Department of Revenue has published a Florida Homeowner’s Guide to provide details about the state law that makes the refunds possible. The Florida Legislature approved the bill during its special session that began on Dec. 12, 2022; Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the measure into law on Dec. 16, 2022.

Florida Statute 197.3181 defines “uninhabitable” as “the loss of use and occupancy of the [residence] for the purpose for which it was constructed,” that guide explains.

A summary of the December 2022 bill, found on the Florida Senate website, adds, “The partial refund of taxes is based on the number of days the home was uninhabitable and requires property owners to first pay their property taxes timely and in full.”

Further, a homeowner “must provide supporting documentation, including, but not limited to, utility bills, insurance information, contractors’ statements, building permit applications, or building inspection certificates of occupancy,” the Department of Revenue guide points out with emphasis.

“For Hurricane Ian,” the guide says, “the maximum number of days in 2022 that can be claimed is 95 …” For Hurricane Nicole, the maximum number of days is 52, the guide adds.

The state statute includes the term “residential improvement” in regard to the hurricane damage. However, the law defines that term as “a residential dwelling or house on real estate used and owned as a homestead as defined in section 196.012(13) [of the Florida Statutes] or used as non-homestead residential property as defined in section 193.1554(1) [of state law]. A residential improvement does not include a structure that is not essential to the use and occupancy of the residential dwelling or house, including, but not limited to, a detached utility building, detached carport, detached garage, bulkhead, fence, or swimming pool, and does not include land.”

After reviewing the Department of Revenue guide, if a homeowner believes he or she is eligible for the partial refund, the individual may complete an application form and return it to the Property Appraiser’s Office no later than April 3 of this year. “You can return the form in person or via email to PA@SC-PA.com,” the Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office staff points out.

No later than June 1, 2023,” the Department of Revenue guide continues — again, with emphasis — “the property appraiser must either notify the applicant of ineligibility or notify both the applicant and tax collector if the applicant is eligible for a refund.

“Applicants found ineligible may file a petition with the value adjustment board requesting that such a refund be granted,” the guide notes. “The petition must be filed with the value adjustment board on or before the 30th day following the issuance of the notice by the property appraiser.”

The property tax relief will expire on Jan. 1, 2024, the state law says.