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Florida Supreme Court to Hear Beach Tax Cases

04/09/2012 8:59 PM | Anonymous

In late February, the Florida Supreme Court accepted jurisdiction on the case involving taxation of improvements on Pensacola Beach (Case #11-2231) and taxation of land on Navarre Beach (Case #11-1445).  This means our tax suits are going to the next level.

The order reads in both cases as follows:

“The Court accepts jurisdiction and dispenses with oral arguments pursuant to Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.320.  Petitioner’s brief on the merits shall be served on or before March 26, 2011; respondent’s brief on the merits shall be served twenty days after service of petitioner’s brief on the merits; and petitioner’s reply brief on the merits shall be served twenty days after service of respondent’s brief on the merits. …

The Clerk of the First District Court of Appeal shall file the original record which shall be properly indexed and paginated on or before April 30, 2012.  The record shall include the briefs filed in the district court separately indexed.”

This means the case against taxation of improvements on a large number of homes, condos and townhouses on Pensacola Beach should be reviewed by the Florida Supreme Court.  It also means that the same Court will be looking at the legality of taxing land on Navarre Beach.  Given the dates for submittal of documents to the Supreme Court, our wait continues.  Our argument lives on and will be considered by the highest court in the State!

Submitted by Lila Cox

More Information

From Pensacola News Journal Article on March 8, 2012
Santa Rosa Island tax cases head to court
By Kimberly Blair

The Florida Supreme Court will decide whether residential leaseholders’ homes, condominiums and townhomes and county-owned land on Santa Rosa Island can be taxed.

The state’s highest court will hear two cases: One is against Escambia County Property Appraiser’s Office for taxing improvements on 2,400 properties on Pensacola Beach. The other is against the Santa Rosa Property Appraiser’s Office for taxing land and improvements on roughly 850 pieces of property on Navarre Beach.

Attorney Danny Kepner with Shell, Fleming, Davis & Menge law firm in Pensacola is representing the property owners in the cases.

“It means, finally, the high court in our state will make a decision as to whether these properties can be taxed on both improvements and land,” Kepner said. “It’s an exciting thing to have happen.”

The court accepted both cases on Feb. 29 after 1st District Court of Appeal rulings that the properties could be taxed. The Navarre ruling was in April, and the Pensacola Beach ruling was in July.

Escambia County Property Appraiser Chris Jones said it could take three months to a year before the Supreme Court rules on the Pensacola Beach case.

Jones placed Pensacola Beach structures on the tax rolls in 2004 after an appellate court ruled that Santa Rosa County could tax its beach structures. He added land to the tax rolls in 2011, and the legality of that has not been settled.

Leaseholders believe their land and dwelling should not be subject to taxation because they are not owners.

Escambia County owns the land on Pensacola Beach. Residents with homes and commercial buildings on Pensacola Beach have 99-year leases, with various options for renewing, on the land. They pay lease fees.

It’s a similar situation on Navarre Beach, except all leases have a continuous 99-year renewable lease.

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