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Owning a Home in Sunshine State: Your Guide to Florida Property Tax Exemptions

January 8, 2024
Written by Brandon Crysler
Table of Contents

Congratulations on becoming a homeowner in the beautiful state of Florida! As you settle into your new abode, navigating the world of property taxes might seem daunting. But worry not, sunshine awaits in the form of property tax exemptions designed to lighten your financial load. Let’s delve into the most significant exemption – the homestead exemption – and explore other tax-saving opportunities available to Florida homeowners.

Homestead Exemption: Your Property Tax Shield

Imagine a $50,000 shield protecting your wallet from property taxes. That’s essentially what the homestead exemption does! This valuable benefit deducts $50,000 from your home’s assessed value, significantly reducing your taxable amount.

Here’s how it works:

  • Eligibility: To qualify, your property must be your primary residence on January 1st of the tax year. You must also own and occupy the home for at least seven months of the year.
  • Benefits: The exemption applies to all taxing authorities, including county, municipal, school district, and special taxing districts. This translates to lower property tax bills and savings that can be put towards other expenses or reinvested in your home.

Double Dipping with the Save Our Homes Cap

Florida’s Save Our Homes assessment limitation acts as a bonus layer of protection. It caps the annual increase in your home’s assessed value to 3% or the Consumer Price Index (CPI), whichever is lower. This prevents sudden spikes in your property tax bill due to rising market values.

Beyond Homestead: Exploring Other Exemptions

While the homestead exemption is the most common, Florida offers additional tax breaks for specific situations. Here are some noteworthy possibilities:

  • Senior Citizen Exemption: If you’re 65 or older and meet certain income requirements, you can qualify for an additional $50,000 exemption on your home’s assessed value.
  • Disabled Person Exemption: Permanently disabled residents and their spouses may be eligible for a $50,000 exemption, with additional exemptions for certain disabilities.
  • Veteran’s Exemption: Florida honors its veterans by offering a $50,000 exemption to certain disabled veterans and their surviving spouses.
  • Blind Person Exemption: Individuals who are legally blind in both eyes may qualify for a $50,000 exemption.

Claiming Your Exemptions: A Smooth Sail

The process for claiming exemptions is generally straightforward. Most counties allow online applications through their property appraiser’s websites. You’ll typically need to provide proof of eligibility, such as your driver’s license, Social Security number, and documentation supporting any additional exemptions you claim.

Remember: Apply for exemptions by March 1st of each year to ensure they’re reflected in the following year’s property tax bill.

Sailing Through Your Florida Property Tax Journey

By understanding and claiming the available exemptions, you can significantly reduce your property tax burden and enjoy the financial benefits of homeownership in Florida. Remember, knowledge is power – the more you know about these tax-saving opportunities, the smoother your financial sail will be on the Sunshine State’s property tax seas.

Bonus Tip: Don’t hesitate to reach out to your local property appraiser’s office for personalized guidance and assistance with claiming exemptions. They’re there to help you navigate the process and ensure you receive all the tax breaks you’re entitled to.

If you are purchasing a home in Florida contact a lender 

Taking Your Tax Savings with You: Portability in Florida’s Property Tax System

Picture this: you’ve built a comfortable life in your Florida homestead, enjoying the sunshine and watching your home’s value rise steadily. Thanks to the “Save Our Homes” (SOH) cap, your property tax hasn’t skyrocketed despite the appreciating market. But, life takes unexpected turns – you might want to downsize, move closer to family, or simply chase a new adventure. Does that mean leaving your tax-saving SOH cap behind? Thankfully, no! Enter portability, a unique feature of Florida’s property tax system that allows you to take your SOH benefit with you when you move to a new homestead within the state.

Here’s how it works:

  • What you transfer: Portability allows you to transfer the difference between your assessed value (property value for tax purposes) and your market value (actual market value) from your old homestead to your new one. This difference, often referred to as the “SOH assessment difference,” represents the tax savings you’ve accumulated thanks to the SOH cap.
  • What you can transfer: You can transfer the full SOH assessment difference up to a maximum of $500,000. If your new home has a higher market value than your old one, the entire difference applies. However, if your new home has a lower market value, you can only transfer a proportionate share of the SOH assessment difference.
  • When you can transfer: You have three years from the date you leave your old homestead to claim portability on your new one. Make sure to apply for both the homestead exemption and portability by March 1st of the year following your move.

Benefits of portability:

  • Reduces property tax bill: By applying the SOH assessment difference to your new home, you effectively lower its taxable value, leading to a smaller property tax bill. This can be a significant saving, especially in areas with rapidly rising property values.
  • Increases affordability: Portability offers flexibility for life changes without worrying about a sudden jump in property taxes. This can make downsizing or relocating within Florida more financially feasible.
  • Promotes housing market mobility: Portability encourages homeowners to move within the state without being penalized for their accrued SOH benefits. This helps maintain a healthy housing market with increased options for buyers and sellers.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Portability only applies to Florida homesteads. You cannot transfer your SOH assessment difference to a property outside the state.
  • There are specific eligibility requirements for both the homestead exemption and portability. Consult your local county property appraiser or the Florida Department of Revenue for detailed information.
  • The process of claiming portability can be complex. Seeking assistance from a tax professional or your county property appraiser’s office is recommended.

Portability is a valuable tool that allows Florida homeowners to enjoy the security of their accumulated SOH tax savings even when they move within the state. By understanding how it works and utilizing its benefits, you can navigate life changes while keeping your property taxes under control.

So, raise a glass of sunshine-infused beverage to your new Florida home and enjoy the financial peace of mind that comes with understanding and claiming your property tax exemptions!

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