Justia Florida Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Tax Law
Thomas v. Clean Energy Coastal Corridor
Clean Energy Coastal Corridor, whose purpose is to finance through the issuance of bonds certain qualifying improvements to real property as authorized by the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Act, adopted a bond resolution authorizing the issuance of revenue bonds in an amount not to exceed $500,000,000 for the purpose of financing qualifying improvements. Clean Energy filed a complaint to validate those bonds. The only argument relevant to this appeal regarding Clean Energy’s authority to issue the bonds was that the bonds could not be validated because the financing agreement to be signed by Clean Energy and property owners participating in the PACE Program purported to authorize a remedy for the collection of unpaid assessments that was not authorized by Florida law. After a show-cause hearing, the circuit court validated the proposed bond issue. The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s final judgment validating the bonds but remanded for the circuit court to require Clean Energy to amend the financing agreement, as the financing agreement’s references to judicial foreclosure were inconsistent with its requirement that the collection of non-ad valorem assessments must be accomplished pursuant to Fla. Stat. 197’s uniform method. View "Thomas v. Clean Energy Coastal Corridor" on Justia Law
Alachua County v. Expedia, Inc.
Certain counties filed a declaratory action against online travel companies (OTCs) arguing, inter alia, that the Tourist Development Tax (TDT) applies to the difference between the total monetary amounts the OTCs’ customers pay to them and the lesser monetary amount the OTCs remit to the hotels (a difference known as the “markup charges.”) The circuit court granted summary judgment for the OTCs, concluding (1) the TDT does not clearly impose any tax on the amount the OTCs charge their customers by way of markup charges; and (2) the OTCs, not the customers, are the entities who exercise the privilege that is taxable under the TDT. The First District Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that the privilege being exercised for purposes of the TDT is renting rooms to tourists, not the other way around. The Supreme Court approved the First District’s Decision by answering the certified question to clarify that the “local option tourist development act” imposes a tax only on the amount the property owner receives for the rental of transient accommodations and not on the total amount of consideration an online travel company receives from tourists who reserve accommodations using the online travel company’s website. View "Alachua County v. Expedia, Inc." on Justia Law
Posted in: Tax Law
Morris v. City of Cape Coral
In 2013, the City of Cape Coral issued a special assessment to provide fire protection services. The City passed an ordinance levying a special assessment against all real property in the City, both developed and undeveloped. The City then filed a complaint to validate the debt. Eight property owners appeared in opposition to the special assessment. After a show cause hearing, the trial court entered its final judgment of validation. The Supreme Court affirmed the order of validation, holding that the City properly exercised its authority to issue a special assessment to fund fire protection services and that the assessment did not violate existing law. View "Morris v. City of Cape Coral" on Justia Law
Accardo v. Brown
At issue in this case was whether the land and improvements on certain leaseholds that were created under long-term leases granted by Santa Rosa County were subject to the ad valorem real property tax. The leaseholders argued that the leasehold interests were taxable only as intangible personal property because the leaseholders were not the actual owners of the property under Florida law, and there could be no equitable ownership absent the right to acquire legal title. The First District Court of Appeals concluded that, given the nature of their perpetual leasehold interests, the leaseholders were the equitable owners of the real property and the improvements thereon, and therefore, the land and improvements at issue were subject to the ad valorem real property tax. The Supreme Court approved of the decision reached by the First District, concluding that the leaseholders were the equitable owners of the real property at issue. View "Accardo v. Brown" on Justia Law
1108 Ariola, LLC v. Jones
At issue in this case were improvements on certain leaseholds that were created under leases granted by Escambia County. The leaseholders (Petitioners) contended that the improvements were not subject to ad valorem taxation. The First District Court of Appeal determined that Petitioners were the equitable owners of the improvements, and therefore, the improvements were subject to ad valorem taxation. The Supreme Court approved the decision reached by the First District, holding that a lessee can have equitable ownership for purposes of ad valorem taxation of improvements on real property even if the lessees have neither a perpetual lease of the underlying real property nor an option to ultimately purchase such property for nominal value. View "1108 Ariola, LLC v. Jones" on Justia Law
Garcia v. Andonie
This case was before the Supreme Court on a property appraiser's appeal of the court of appeal's decision affirming a circuit court's grant of an ad valorem homestead tax exemption to David and Ana Andonie (the taxpayers) and declaration that a portion of Fla. Stat. 196.031(1) was invalid and unenforceable because the statutory provision limited the class of property owners otherwise eligible for ad valorem tax relief under Fla. Const. art. VII, 6(a). The Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeal to the extent it was consistent with its holding here, holding (1) the plain language of article VII, section 6(a) permits every owner of Florida real property to apply for and receive ad valorem tax relief where it is sufficiently demonstrated that the owner has maintained on that property the permanent residence of another legally or naturally dependent on the owner; and (2) the property appraiser here failed to sufficiently preserve for appellate review any argument regarding the sufficiency of the evidence introduced in the circuit court below, and the record sufficiently demonstrated that the taxpayers maintained on their property the permanent residence of their minor children, each of whom was legally and naturally dependent on the taxpayers. View "Garcia v. Andonie" on Justia Law
Delta Property Mgmt., etc. v. Profile Investments, Inc., et al.
Delta sought review of the First District's reversal of summary judgment voiding a tax deed and quieting title to certain real property in Delta. The court concluded that the First District improperly applied the law-of-the-case doctrine and that the validity of the tax deed in this case should be determined by applying Jones v. Flowers and Vosilla v. Rosado. The court further held that because the Clerk failed to take reasonable, additional steps to provide notice to Delta upon learning that the notice sent by certified mail was not successfully delivered, the tax deed was invalid. Therefore, the court quashed the First District's decision and remanded with instructions that the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Delta be affirmed. View "Delta Property Mgmt., etc. v. Profile Investments, Inc., et al." on Justia Law
Posted in: Florida Supreme Court, Real Estate & Property Law, Tax Law
North Port Road And Drainage Dist., etc. v. West Villages Improvement Dist., etc.
The North Port Road and Drainage District (NPRDD), a municipal dependent special district wholly contained within the City of North Port, levied non-ad valorem special assessments against nine parcels of real property owned by West Villages Improvement District, an independent special district of the State of Florida. The Second District held that NPRDD could not lawfully impose the special assessments on West Villages' real property without statutory authority. The court affirmed, but on the basis that NPRDD's home rule power under the Florida Constitution did not reach as far as it argued. Accordingly, because there was no way for West Villages to lawfully pay the special assessments, NPRDD's assessments fell within the limitations on home rule powers set forth in section 166.021(3), Florida Statutes. View "North Port Road And Drainage Dist., etc. v. West Villages Improvement Dist., etc." on Justia Law