April 07, 2020
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HB 7157

A bill to be entitled
2An act relating to real property used for conservation
3purposes; creating s. 196.26, F.S.; providing definitions;
4providing for a full exemption for land dedicated in
5perpetuity and used exclusively for conservation purposes;
6providing a partial ad valorem tax exemption for
7conservation land that is used for commercial purposes;
8permitting land smaller than a certain size to qualify for
9the exemption upon approval by the Acquisition and
10Restoration Council; requiring the Acquisition and
11Restoration Council to consider whether the property will
12yield a significant public benefit; specifying criteria;
13requiring approved lands to have a management plan;
14specifying baseline documentation required for certain
15conservation easements; providing for the assessment of
16buildings and structures on exempted lands; exempting
17certain structures and improvements from certain
18assessments; requiring best management practices to be
19used for certain agricultural lands; providing for third-
20party conservation easement enforcement rights to water
21management districts under certain circumstances;
22requiring the Acquisition and Restoration Council to
23maintain a list of certain enforcement entities; amending
24s. 193.501, F.S.; revising a cross-reference; requiring
25the owner of the land to annually apply to the property
26appraiser by a certain date for the assessment based on
27character or use; authorizing the property appraiser or
28value adjustment board to grant late applications for such
29assessments if extenuating circumstances are shown;
30providing application requirements; providing for a
31nonrefundable fee; providing for waiver of the annual
32filing requirement under certain circumstances; requiring
33a landowner to notify the property appraiser if the land
34becomes ineligible for the assessment benefit; imposing
35penalties for nonpayment of ad valorem taxes after a loss
36of eligibility for the assessment benefit; directing the
37property appraiser to record a notice of tax lien;
38amending s. 704.06, F.S.; requiring owners of property
39encumbered by a conservation easement to comply with
40marketable record title requirements to preserve the
41easement in perpetuity; amending s. 195.073, F.S.;
42specifying an additional real property assessment
43classification; amending s. 196.011, F.S.; providing
44requirements and procedures for renewal applications for
45exemptions for real property dedicated in perpetuity for
46conservation purposes; requiring owners of such property
47to notify the property appraiser when use of the property
48no longer qualifies for the exemption; providing penalties
49for failure to notify; providing for application of
50certain lien provisions; amending s. 192.0105, F.S.;
51conforming a cross-reference; creating s. 218.125, F.S.;
52requiring the Legislature to appropriate moneys to offset
53the reductions in ad valorem tax revenue experienced by
54fiscally constrained counties; requiring each fiscally
55constrained county to apply to the Department of Revenue
56to participate in the distribution of the appropriation;
57specifying the documentation that must be provided to the
58department; providing a formula for calculating the
59reduction in ad valorem tax revenue; authorizing the
60department to adopt emergency rules effective for a
61specified period; providing for renewal of such rules;
62providing applicability; providing an effective date.
64Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
66     Section 1.  Section 196.26, Florida Statutes, is created to
68     196.26  Exemption for real property dedicated in perpetuity
69for conservation purposes.--
70     (1)  As used in this section:
71     (a)  "Allowed commercial uses" means commercial uses that
72are allowed by the conservation easement encumbering the land
73exempt from taxation under this section.
74     (b)  "Conservation easement" means the property right
75described in s. 704.06.
76     (c)  "Conservation purposes" means:
77     1.  Serving a conservation purpose, as defined in 26 U.S.C.
78s. 170(h)(4)(A)(i)-(iii), for land which serves as the basis of
79a qualified conservation contribution under 26 U.S.C. s. 170(h);
81     2.a.  Retention of the substantial natural value of land,
82including woodlands, wetlands, water courses, ponds, streams,
83and natural open spaces;
84     b.  Retention of such lands as suitable habitat for fish,
85plants, or wildlife; or
86     c.  Retention of such lands' natural value for water
87quality enhancement or water recharge.
88     (d)  "Dedicated in perpetuity" means that the land is
89encumbered by an irrevocable, perpetual conservation easement.
90     (2)  Land that is dedicated in perpetuity for conservation
91purposes and that is used exclusively for conservation purposes
92is exempt from ad valorem taxation. Such exclusive use does not
93preclude the receipt of income from activities that are
94consistent with a management plan when the income is used to
95implement, maintain, and manage the management plan.
96     (3)  Land that is dedicated in perpetuity for conservation
97purposes and that is used for allowed commercial uses is exempt
98from ad valorem taxation to the extent of 50 percent of the
99assessed value of the land.
100     (4)  Land that comprises less than 40 contiguous acres does
101not qualify for the exemption provided in this section unless,
102in addition to meeting the other requirements of this section,
103the use of the land for conservation purposes is determined by
104the Acquisition and Restoration Council created in s. 259.035 to
105fulfill a clearly delineated state conservation policy and yield
106a significant public benefit. In making its determination of
107public benefit, the Acquisition and Restoration Council must
108give particular consideration to land that:
109     (a)  Contains a natural sinkhole or natural spring that
110serves a water recharge or production function;
111     (b)  Contains a unique geological feature;
112     (c)  Provides habitat for endangered or threatened species;
113     (d)  Provides nursery habitat for marine and estuarine
115     (e)  Provides protection or restoration of vulnerable
116coastal areas;
117     (f)  Preserves natural shoreline habitat; or
118     (g)  Provides retention of natural open space in otherwise
119densely built-up areas.
121Any land approved by the Acquisition and Restoration Council
122under this subsection must have a management plan and a
123designated manager who will be responsible for implementing the
124management plan.
125     (5)  The conservation easement that serves as the basis for
126the exemption granted by this section must include baseline
127documentation as to the natural values to be protected on the
128land and may include a management plan that details the
129management of the land so as to effectuate the conservation of
130natural resources on the land.
131     (6)  Buildings, structures, and other improvements situated
132on land receiving the exemption provided in this section and the
133land area immediately surrounding the buildings, structures, and
134improvements must be assessed separately pursuant to chapter
135193. However, structures and other improvements that are
136auxiliary to the use of the land for conservation purposes are
137exempt to the same extent as the underlying land.
138     (7)  Land that qualifies for the exemption provided in this
139section the allowed commercial uses of which include agriculture
140must comply with the most recent best management practices if
141adopted by rule of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer
143     (8)  As provided in s. 704.06(8) and (9), water management
144districts with jurisdiction over lands receiving the exemption
145provided in this section have a third-party right of enforcement
146to enforce the terms of the applicable conservation easement for
147any easement that is not enforceable by a federal or state
148agency, county, municipality, or water management district when
149the holder of the easement is unable or unwilling to enforce the
150terms of the easement.
151     (9)  The Acquisition and Restoration Council, created in s.
152259.035, shall maintain a list of nonprofit entities that are
153qualified to enforce the provisions of a conservation easement.
154     Section 2.  Subsection (1) of section 193.501, Florida
155Statutes, is amended, and subsections (8) and (9) are added to
156that section, to read:
157     193.501  Assessment of lands subject to a conservation
158easement, environmentally endangered lands, or lands used for
159outdoor recreational or park purposes when land development
160rights have been conveyed or conservation restrictions have been
162     (1)  The owner or owners in fee of any land subject to a
163conservation easement as described in s. 704.06(1); land
164qualified as environmentally endangered pursuant to paragraph
165(6)(i) and so designated by formal resolution of the governing
166board of the municipality or county within which such land is
167located; land designated as conservation land in a comprehensive
168plan adopted by the appropriate municipal or county governing
169body; or any land which is utilized for outdoor recreational or
170park purposes may, by appropriate instrument, for a term of not
171less than 10 years:
172     (a)  Convey the development right of such land to the
173governing board of any public agency in this state within which
174the land is located, or to the Board of Trustees of the Internal
175Improvement Trust Fund, or to a charitable corporation or trust
176as described in s. 704.06(3); or
177     (b)  Covenant with the governing board of any public agency
178in this state within which the land is located, or with the
179Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund, or
180with a charitable corporation or trust as described in s.
181704.06(3), that such land be subject to one or more of the
182conservation restrictions provided in s. 704.06(1) or not be
183used by the owner for any purpose other than outdoor
184recreational or park purposes. If land is covenanted and used
185for an outdoor recreational purpose, the normal use and
186maintenance of the land for that purpose, consistent with the
187covenant, shall not be restricted.
188     (8)  A person or organization that, on January 1, has the
189legal title to land that is entitled by law to assessment under
190this section shall, on or before March 1 of each year, file an
191application for assessment under this section with the county
192property appraiser. The application must identify the property
193for which assessment under this section is claimed. The initial
194application for assessment for any property must include a copy
195of the instrument by which the development right is conveyed or
196which establishes a covenant that establishes the conservation
197purposes for which the land is used. The Department of Revenue
198shall prescribe the forms upon which the application is made.
199The failure to file an application on or before March 1 of any
200year constitutes a waiver of assessment under this section for
201that year. However, an applicant who is qualified to receive an
202assessment under this section but fails to file an application
203by March 1 may file an application for the assessment and may
204file, pursuant to s. 194.011(3), a petition with the value
205adjustment board requesting that the assessment be granted. The
206petition must be filed at any time during the taxable year on or
207before the 25th day following the mailing of the notice by the
208property appraiser pursuant to s. 194.011(1). Notwithstanding s.
209194.013, the applicant must pay a nonrefundable fee of $15 upon
210filing the petition. Upon reviewing the petition, if the person
211is qualified to receive the assessment and demonstrates
212particular extenuating circumstances judged by the property
213appraiser or the value adjustment board to warrant granting the
214assessment, the property appraiser or the value adjustment board
215may grant the assessment. The owner of land that was assessed
216under this section in the previous year and whose ownership or
217use has not changed may reapply on a short form as provided by
218the department. A county may, at the request of the property
219appraiser and by a majority vote of its governing body, waive
220the requirement that an annual application or statement be made
221for assessment of property within the county. Such waiver may be
222revoked by a majority vote of the governing body of the county.
223     (9)  A person or entity that owns land assessed pursuant to
224this section must notify the property appraiser promptly if the
225land becomes ineligible for assessment under this section. If
226any property owner fails to notify the property appraiser and
227the property appraiser determines that for any year within the
228preceding 10 years the land was not eligible for assessment
229under this section, the owner of the land is subject to taxes
230avoided as a result of such failure plus 15 percent interest per
231annum and a penalty of 50 percent of the taxes avoided. The
232property appraiser making such determination shall record in the
233public records of the county a notice of tax lien against any
234property owned by that person or entity in the county, and such
235property must be identified in the notice of tax lien. The
236property is subject to a lien in the amount of the unpaid taxes
237and penalties. The lien when filed shall attach to any property
238identified in the notice of tax lien which is owned by the
239person or entity and which was improperly assessed. If such
240person or entity no longer owns property in that county but owns
241property in some other county or counties of this state, the
242property appraiser shall record a notice of tax lien in such
243other county or counties, identifying the property owned by such
244person or entity.
245     Section 3.  Subsection (12) is added to section 704.06,
246Florida Statutes, to read:
247     704.06  Conservation easements; creation; acquisition;
249     (12)  An owner of property encumbered by a conservation
250easement must abide by the requirements of chapter 712 or any
251other similar law or rule to preserve the conservation easement
252in perpetuity.
253     Section 4.  Subsection (1) of section 195.073, Florida
254Statutes, is amended to read:
255     195.073  Classification of property.--All items required by
256law to be on the assessment rolls must receive a classification
257based upon the use of the property. The department shall
258promulgate uniform definitions for all classifications. The
259department may designate other subclassifications of property.
260No assessment roll may be approved by the department which does
261not show proper classifications.
262     (1)  Real property must be classified according to the
263assessment basis of the land into the following classes:
264     (a)  Residential, subclassified into categories, one
265category for homestead property and one for nonhomestead
267     1.  Single family.
268     2.  Mobile homes.
269     3.  Multifamily.
270     4.  Condominiums.
271     5.  Cooperatives.
272     6.  Retirement homes.
273     (b)  Commercial and industrial.
274     (c)  Agricultural.
275     (d)  Nonagricultural acreage.
276     (e)  High-water recharge.
277     (f)  Historic property used for commercial or certain
278nonprofit purposes.
279     (g)  Exempt, wholly or partially.
280     (h)  Centrally assessed.
281     (i)  Leasehold interests.
282     (j)  Time-share property.
283     (k)  Land assessed under s. 193.501.
284     (l)(k)  Other.
285     Section 5.  Subsections (6) and (9) of section 196.011,
286Florida Statutes, are amended to read:
287     196.011  Annual application required for exemption.--
288     (6)(a)  Once an original application for tax exemption has
289been granted, in each succeeding year on or before February 1,
290the property appraiser shall mail a renewal application to the
291applicant, and the property appraiser shall accept from each
292such applicant a renewal application on a form to be prescribed
293by the Department of Revenue. Such renewal application shall be
294accepted as evidence of exemption by the property appraiser
295unless he or she denies the application. Upon denial, the
296property appraiser shall serve, on or before July 1 of each
297year, a notice setting forth the grounds for denial on the
298applicant by first-class mail. Any applicant objecting to such
299denial may file a petition as provided for in s. 194.011(3).
300     (b)  Once an original application for tax exemption has
301been granted under s. 196.26, in each succeeding year on or
302before February 1, the property appraiser shall mail a renewal
303application to the applicant on a form prescribed by the
304Department of Revenue. The applicant must certify on the form
305that the use of the property complies with the restrictions and
306requirements of the conservation easement. The form shall
307include a statement that the exemption granted under s. 196.26
308will not be renewed unless the application is returned to the
309property appraiser.
310     (9)(a)  A county may, at the request of the property
311appraiser and by a majority vote of its governing body, waive
312the requirement that an annual application or statement be made
313for exemption of property within the county after an initial
314application is made and the exemption granted. The waiver under
315this subsection of the annual application or statement
316requirement applies to all exemptions under this chapter except
317the exemption under s. 196.1995. Notwithstanding such waiver,
318refiling of an application or statement shall be required when
319any property granted an exemption is sold or otherwise disposed
320of, when the ownership changes in any manner, when the applicant
321for homestead exemption ceases to use the property as his or her
322homestead, or when the status of the owner changes so as to
323change the exempt status of the property. In its deliberations
324on whether to waive the annual application or statement
325requirement, the governing body shall consider the possibility
326of fraudulent exemption claims which may occur due to the waiver
327of the annual application requirement. It is the duty of The
328owner of any property granted an exemption who is not required
329to file an annual application or statement shall to notify the
330property appraiser promptly whenever the use of the property or
331the status or condition of the owner changes so as to change the
332exempt status of the property. If any property owner fails to so
333notify the property appraiser and the property appraiser
334determines that for any year within the prior 10 years the owner
335was not entitled to receive such exemption, the owner of the
336property is subject to the taxes exempted as a result of such
337failure plus 15 percent interest per annum and a penalty of 50
338percent of the taxes exempted. Except for homestead exemptions
339controlled by s. 196.161, it is the duty of the property
340appraiser making such determination shall to record in the
341public records of the county a notice of tax lien against any
342property owned by that person or entity in the county, and such
343property must be identified in the notice of tax lien. Such
344property is subject to the payment of all taxes and penalties.
345Such lien when filed shall attach to any property, identified in
346the notice of tax lien, owned by the person who illegally or
347improperly received the exemption. If Should such person no
348longer owns own property in that county, but owns own property
349in some other county or counties in the state, it shall be the
350duty of the property appraiser shall to record a notice of tax
351lien in such other county or counties, identifying the property
352owned by such person or entity in such county or counties, and
353it shall become a lien against such property in such county or
355     (b)  The owner of any property granted an exemption under
356s. 196.26 shall notify the property appraiser promptly whenever
357the use of the property no longer complies with the restrictions
358and requirements of the conservation easement. If the property
359owner fails to so notify the property appraiser and the property
360appraiser determines that for any year within the preceding 10
361years the owner was not entitled to receive the exemption, the
362owner of the property is subject to taxes exempted as a result
363of the failure plus 18 percent interest per annum and a penalty
364of 100 percent of the taxes exempted. The provisions for tax
365liens in paragraph (a) apply to property granted an exemption
366under s. 196.26.
367     (c)(b)  A county may, at the request of the property
368appraiser and by a majority vote of its governing body, waive
369the requirement that an annual application be made for the
370veteran's disability discount granted pursuant to s. 6(g), Art.
371VII of the State Constitution after an initial application is
372made and the discount granted. It is the duty of The disabled
373veteran receiving a discount for which annual application has
374been waived shall to notify the property appraiser promptly
375whenever the use of the property or the percentage of disability
376to which the veteran is entitled changes. If a disabled veteran
377fails to notify the property appraiser and the property
378appraiser determines that for any year within the prior 10 years
379the veteran was not entitled to receive all or a portion of such
380discount, the penalties and processes in paragraph (a) relating
381to the failure to notify the property appraiser of ineligibility
382for an exemption shall apply.
383     (d)(c)  For any exemption under s. 196.101(2), the
384statement concerning gross income must be filed with the
385property appraiser not later than March 1 of every year.
386     (e)(d)  If an exemption for which the annual application is
387waived pursuant to this subsection will be denied by the
388property appraiser in the absence of the refiling of the
389application, notification of an intent to deny the exemption
390shall be mailed to the owner of the property prior to February
3911. If the property appraiser fails to timely mail such notice,
392the application deadline for such property owner pursuant to
393subsection (1) shall be extended to 28 days after the date on
394which the property appraiser mails such notice.
395     Section 6.  Paragraph (c) of subsection (2) of section
396192.0105, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
397     192.0105  Taxpayer rights.--There is created a Florida
398Taxpayer's Bill of Rights for property taxes and assessments to
399guarantee that the rights, privacy, and property of the
400taxpayers of this state are adequately safeguarded and protected
401during tax levy, assessment, collection, and enforcement
402processes administered under the revenue laws of this state. The
403Taxpayer's Bill of Rights compiles, in one document, brief but
404comprehensive statements that summarize the rights and
405obligations of the property appraisers, tax collectors, clerks
406of the court, local governing boards, the Department of Revenue,
407and taxpayers. Additional rights afforded to payors of taxes and
408assessments imposed under the revenue laws of this state are
409provided in s. 213.015. The rights afforded taxpayers to assure
410that their privacy and property are safeguarded and protected
411during tax levy, assessment, and collection are available only
412insofar as they are implemented in other parts of the Florida
413Statutes or rules of the Department of Revenue. The rights so
414guaranteed to state taxpayers in the Florida Statutes and the
415departmental rules include:
416     (2)  THE RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS.--
417     (c)  The right to file a petition for exemption or
418agricultural classification with the value adjustment board when
419an application deadline is missed, upon demonstration of
420particular extenuating circumstances for filing late (see ss.
421193.461(3)(a) and 196.011(1), (7), (8), and (9)(e)(d)).
422     Section 7.  Section 218.125, Florida Statutes, is created
423to read:
424     218.125  Offset for tax loss associated with certain
425constitutional amendments affecting fiscally constrained
427     (1)  Beginning in the 2010-2011 fiscal year, the
428Legislature shall appropriate moneys to offset the reductions in
429ad valorem tax revenue experienced by fiscally constrained
430counties, as defined in s. 218.67(1), which occur as a direct
431result of the implementation of revisions of ss. 3(f) and 4(b)
432of Art. VII of the State Constitution which were approved in the
433general election held in November 2008. The moneys appropriated
434for this purpose shall be distributed in January of each fiscal
435year among the fiscally constrained counties based on each
436county's proportion of the total reduction in ad valorem tax
437revenue resulting from the implementation of the revisions.
438     (2)  On or before November 15 of each year, beginning in
4392010, each fiscally constrained county shall apply to the
440Department of Revenue to participate in the distribution of the
441appropriation and provide documentation supporting the county's
442estimated reduction in ad valorem tax revenue in the form and
443manner prescribed by the Department of Revenue. The
444documentation must include an estimate of the reduction in
445taxable value directly attributable to revisions of Art. VII of
446the State Constitution for all county taxing jurisdictions
447within the county and shall be prepared by the property
448appraiser in each fiscally constrained county. The documentation
449must also include the county millage rates applicable in all
450such jurisdictions for the current year and the prior year,
451rolled-back rates determined as provided in s. 200.065 for each
452county taxing jurisdiction, and maximum millage rates that could
453have been levied by majority vote pursuant to s. 200.185. For
454purposes of this section, each fiscally constrained county's
455reduction in ad valorem tax revenue shall be calculated as 95
456percent of the estimated reduction in taxable value multiplied
457by the lesser of the 2010 applicable millage rate or the
458applicable millage rate for each county taxing jurisdiction in
459the prior year.
460     Section 8.  The Department of Revenue may adopt emergency
461rules to administer s. 196.26, Florida Statutes, as created by
462this act. The emergency rules shall remain in effect for 6
463months after adoption and may be renewed during the pendency of
464procedures to adopt rules addressing the subject of the
465emergency rules.
466     Section 9.  This act shall take effect upon becoming a law
467and shall apply to property tax assessments made on or after
468January 1, 2010.

CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.
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