You may have heard that taxes in some Florida retirement communities are high. Well, that may be true in some areas but it's not always the case. The state of Florida does provide some much needed tax relief in the form of homestead exemptions.
$50,000 Homestead Exemption
Florida’s constitution provides homeowners the right to receive a homestead exemption provided they meet certain residency requirements. Every person who has “legal or equitable title (you own it) to real property (your home) in the State of Florida and who resides on the property on January 1, and in good faith makes it his or her permanent home is eligible for a homestead exemption.” This exemption reduces your “just value” by $50,000 (note: this used to be $25,000…Florida voters elected to double it in January 2008), which could save you around $1,000 on your property tax bill, depending on what the millage rate is for your area. For this example I assumed a 2% tax rate (20 mils).
HOWEVER, the second $25,000 that Florida added in 2008 to this exemption does not apply to school taxes (which equate to about a third of most tax bills). Therefore, the actual benefit from this is closer to $15,000 (for a total benefit of $40,000….$25,000 + $15,000). The tax savings from a $40,000 exemption where this tax rate is 2% would be $800. Still not a bad chunk of change.
You have to make application for the exemption between January 1 of the previous year and March 1 of the year you want the exemption. For example, for the 2011 tax year, you would have been able to apply for homestead exemption from January 1, 2010 to March 1, 2011.
When filing your homestead exemption for the first time, you will be asked to provide evidence that you are a legal resident, such as a voter registration card or a Florida driver’s license. Most counties have automatic renewal programs so there is no need to reapply each year as long as you are in the same home. If you move, however, you will need to reapply.
If you are a part-time resident using your home in Florida as a vacation home or second home, you will not be eligible for this exemption. However, since the new property tax amendment passed in January 2008, your property tax increases are now capped at 10% per year. “Big deal” now you say… but if there's ever a time like 2001-2006 when property taxes nearly doubled for some folks, you'll be happy with this change.
Other Possible Exemptions
In addition to the $50,000 Homestead Exemption, there are other exemptions available that could possibly reduce your tax bill.
Additional Homestead Exemption for Persons 65 and Older of up to $25,000
This exemption is available on a county-by-county basis, and not all counties offer it.
$500 Widow’s and Widower’s Exemption
This one is pretty self-explanatory.
$500 Disability Exemption
Any Florida resident who is totally and permanently disabled may claim this exemption with proper documentation of the disability.
$5,000 Disability Exemption for Ex -Service Members
An ex-service member who is disabled at least 10 percent in war or another service-related incident might be entitled to this exemption.
(New for 2011) Exemption for Deployed Military
Florida Military Personnel deployed under: (1) “Operation Enduring Freedom” began 10/07/01; (2) “Operation Iraqi Freedom” began 3/19/03 and ended 8/31/10; and (3) “Operation New Dawn” began 9/01/10 will all qualify for this new exemption. This exemption will allow service members a percentage of value-exempted equal to the number of days deployed divided by 365 days (% of the year).
$500 Exemption for Blind Persons
In order to claim this exemption, you must have a certificate of blindness issued by the Division of Blind Services of the Department of Education, the Federal Social Security Administration, or the Veteran’s Administration.
These exemptions can be combined with each other. Certain other rules and restrictions apply to the above exemptions. You should contact the local property appraiser’s office for more information on the county in which you are interested. For links to the property appraiser’s offices throughout Florida visit: http://myflorida.com/dor/property/appraisers.html