Have you ever seen those requests for information and ignored them only to have it used against you at a Valuation Adjustment Board (VAB) hearing?

Since 2003 Property Appraisers throughout Florida have sent mass mailings to owners of commercial properties requesting income statements, rent rolls, appraisals and any other information relevant to the valuation of their properties. These notices state that per the Higgs V. Good case, failure to supply this information bars the taxpayer from later using it in administrative hearings.

A recent Department of Revenue Bulletin, and newly enacted training guidelines for Special Magistrates, clarify that Higgs does not apply to administrative hearings. The Bulletin opined that no statute or rule authorized a Special Magistrate to order the exclusion of relevant and otherwise admissible evidence based on Higgs. Provided a taxpayer complies with Department rules, failure by the taxpayer to provide income data during the Property Appraiser’s development process does not preclude its consideration at the administrative hearing.

This rule may be challenged by certain appraiser’s offices, but pending a ruling on that challenge, Higgs does not apply to VAB proceedings.