Florida Homestead Exemption
There are 2 types of homestead exemptions available to property owners in Florida. The fact that you have one type of exemption does not necessarily mean that you have the other type of exemption as each exemption has distinct requirements.
$25,000 Tax ExemptionFor Homestead Real Estate
The homestead exemption is a constitutional guarantee that reduces the accessed value of residential property up to $25,000 for qualified permanent residents. Obtaining homestead status will cap the amount a homeowner's property can be reassessed annually to 3% or to the percentage change in the Urban Consumer Index, which ever is lower. Every person who has legal or equitable title to real property 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 lowers the real property taxes by approximately $650.00 each year. Homeowners who rent their primary residence are unable to qualify for homestead exemption.
Additional Homestead Exemptions
Widows, widowers, permanently disabled and persons 65 and older
Qualified Florida residents whose spouse that is deceased are eligible for a windows or widowers exemption. Permanent disability or legally blind residents as attested by physicians are eligible for additional exemptions.
In accordance with s. 6(f), Art. VII of the State Constitution, the board of county commissioners of any county or the governing authority of any municipality may adopt an ordinance to allow an additional homestead exemption of up to $25,000 for any person who has the legal or equitable title to real estate and maintains thereon the permanent residence of the owner, who has attained age 65, and whose household income does not exceed $20,000. This can change annually according to the consumer-price-index, issued by the United States Department of Labor.
File for the Tax Exemption
To apply for homestead exemptions the owner of the property must appear personally at the County Property Appraisers office and complete a Form DR-501 application for a tax exemption.
Exemptions are not automatically transferred from one residence to a new home. To receive an exemption on a new home, one must reapply before March 1. To file for the exemption, establish residency by December 31 prior to the year you will claim exemption, then file for exemption in January or February. Since real property taxes are paid in arrears in Florida this type of homestead exemption is only available if the owner is the permanent resident of residential property as of December 31 of the prior year and owner makes application for the exemption at the property appraiser's office on or before March 1 of the following year.
At the time of application it will be necessary to produce a copy of:
Only one property can be declared homestead property and it is a criminal offense to file more than one application.
Trusts and Multiple Owners
If property is held in a trust, the beneficiary can qualify for homestead if it is their principle residence and a copy of the trust document is produced reflecting that he or she is the beneficiary. In cases where there are multiple owners holding title and some may be out of state residents, the person who declares Florida their residence and applies for homestead is entitled to a proportionate share of the $25,000.00 exemption in proportion to their ownership interest.
When to File
Generally, initial application for property tax exemption must be made between January 1 and March 1 of the year for which the exemption is sought. Initial application should be made in person at the property appraiser's office. The deadline for any current year's application is March 1st. If an application is made after March 1st, the exemption is lost for tax purposes for the balance of the year but will be applied to take effect for the following year. Once homestead is applied for, it will roll over automatically every year until you vacate the property as your primary residence.
Homestead Tax Deferral
A person who is entitled to claim homestead tax exemption may elect to defer payment of part of the combined total taxes. The combined total includes ad valorem taxes and any non- ad valorem assessments that would be covered by a tax certificate sold by the tax collector. An annual application for tax deferral should be filed with the county tax collector on or before January 31, following the year in which the taxes and non-ad valorem assessments are assessed.
For additional information as to the number of years, total amounts that may be deferred, and interest on deferred taxes, contact the local tax collector.
Installment Payment of Property Taxes
Taxpayers who want to prepay property taxes on the installment plan should file an application with the tax collector by May 1 of the year in which the taxes are assessed. After submission of an initial application, a taxpayer is not required to submit annual applications as long as he continues to elect to prepay taxes by installments. For additional information as to discounts and payment dates, contact the local county tax collector. Effective January 1, 1993, county tax collectors may accept an installment payment of property tax on the next business day following the due date, if the last day for payment falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday.
For more information about property taxes and exemptions, contact your county property appraiser or tax collector.
Sarasota County Property Appraiser
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Homestead Exemptions for Asset Protection
The homestead exemption for asset protection purposes provides the owner of property with a shield from virtually all non-lien creditors. This type of homestead exemption is only available if the property is your primary residence and a court makes a determination that the property is within a municipality or outside of a municipality. If your property is within a municipality, protection is provided for only one half acre of contiguous land. If your property is outside of a municipality, protection is provided for 160 acres of contiguous land. Florida Constitution provides homestead property with a shield of protection against third party creditors. Under Florida law, homestead property is immune from any judgments, liens or claims of third parties. The only exemption is if a property owner affirmatively pledges his or her homestead property as security such as a mortgage or improving the property and thereby subjecting the property to the construction lien law. Even after a property is sold, if there are judgment liens against the property owner provided the homestead proceeds are reinvested in another homestead property, they are again immune from third party claims.