March 1st of each year is the deadline to apply for a Florida Homestead Tax Exemption. If you moved to a new home within the last year, this is a deadline you do not want to miss. This article will explain the benefits of the Florida Homestead Tax Exemption, the requirements for an exemption, and how to apply for an exemption.
For links to apply online, click here.
Benefits of a Homestead Exemption
There are numerous financial benefits to having a homestead exemption on your property. On the most basic level, the homestead exemption itself entitles most homeowners to a deduction of $25,000 off of their property’s assessed value, which can result in several hundred dollars in tax savings. If your home is worth at least $75,000, you will receive an additional $25,000 deduction from your assessed value, although that additional deduction will not apply to school tax levies. Once you establish your right to a basic homestead exemption on your property, you may also qualify for additional homestead exemptions if you are over 65 years old or have a disability. But perhaps most importantly, receipt of a homestead exemption means that, pursuant to the Save Our Homes Amendment to the Florida Constitution, the assessed value of your homestead property cannot increase more than 3% per year or the percent change in the Consumer Price Index. Moreover, in many cases, this tax savings can now be transferred to a new Florida residence if you move. Thus, while the basic homestead exemption may only save you a few hundred dollars per year, the rights that come with a homestead exemption can be extremely valuable.
How to Apply for a Homestead Exemption
Homestead exemption applications must be filed with the county Property Appraiser by March 1st of the tax year for which the exemption is sought. Thus, in order to receive a 2020 homestead exemption, you must apply by March 1, 2020. If you acquired or moved into your new home after January 1, 2020, then you would not qualify for a 2020 homestead exemption, but you can go ahead and apply now for a 2020 homestead exemption. If you already have a homestead exemption, you probably do not need to re-apply, as most counties use an automatic renewal process, whereby you only need to notify the Property Appraiser if you are no longer entitled to the exemption.
What property qualifies for a Homestead Exemption?
In order to qualify for a homestead exemption, as of January 1st of the tax year in question, you must have either legal or beneficial title to the property for which you are seeking an exemption, and the property must be the permanent residence of either yourself or someone who is legally or naturally dependent on you. Thus, the property can be owned by a trust, as long as the applicant retains beneficial title and a possess interest in the property. However, the homestead exemption may not be claimed by a corporation.
The property must also be you or your natural dependent’s “permanent residence,” which is defined by Fla. Stat. 196.012(18) as “that place where a person has his or her true, fixed, and permanent home and principal establishment to which, whenever absent, he or she has the intention of returning.” In determining whether the property is your permanent residence, the Property Appraiser may consider a number of statutory factors, including but not limited to the existence of a formal declaration of domicile, where your children are registered for school, your place of employment, residency in another state, the address where you are registered to vote, the address on your driver’s license or identification card, vehicle registration, the address on your federal income tax returns, the address on your bank statements, and proof of payment for utilities at the subject property.
Also, the homestead exemption only applies to that portion of the property that is classified and assessed as owner-occupied residential property. Therefore, mixed-use properties may only receive the homestead exemption benefits on a portion of the property.
If you have additional questions about Homestead Exemptions, contact your knowledgeable Real Estate Advisor at Driftwood Realty Group.