What You Need to Know About the Florida Homestead Exemption
If you’ve recently moved to, or are considering moving to Sunny Sarasota Florida, you may not understand the Florida Homestead Exemption and how it affects the amount of property taxes you will pay on your new home or how you apply for it.
Here’s a very brief summary of what you as a new Florida homeowner needs to know and what to do to benefit from the Exemption. The goal of Homestead Exemptions is to reduce property taxes by sheltering a certain amount of a home’s value from certain taxes.
The Florida Homestead Exemption is, in simple terms, a reduction in the Assessed Value of your real estate property and it has two parts. The first $25,000 of Assessed Value is exempt from ad valorem property taxes. Any Assessed Value from $50,000 up to $75,000 is also exempt except for school taxes. Homeowners who qualify for the Homestead Exemption also benefit from the “Save Our Homes Cap,” which caps annual increases in Assessed Value at no more than 3% or the change in the Consumer Price Index, whichever is less.
To qualify for the Homestead Exemption, you must
- be a permanent resident of the State of Florida, and
- own and occupy the property on January 1.
The most common means of demonstrating your permanent residence status is to hold a valid Florida Driver License or ID, have a vehicle registered in Florida and, if you vote, be registered to vote at the homestead address. Since the U.S. government passed the “My Real ID Act” in 2004, driver’s licenses and other government issued forms of identification must be registered to a person’s legal address, so you need to be sure that your “legal address” is your permanent Florida address, and that that is the address of the property for which you are applying for the Exemption.
The Homestead Exemption may save a homeowner up to $600 depending on the taxing districts levying taxes on your property. In 2013, for example, homesteaded properties in unincorporated Sarasota County with values over $75,000 saw a tax savings of $477. Properties within the incorporated cities and the Town of Longboat Key would see greater savings due to the additional taxes levied in those areas. The sheltered value from the Save Our Homes Cap, which fluctuates up or down every year and is unique to each property, will also result in tax savings. Your Sarasota - Bradenton area Realtor can tell you which neighborhoods are in “incorporated” versus “non-incorporated” taxing districts.
Qualified property owners may apply for the Homestead Exemption at any time, up to the March 1 statutory deadline, once they have established themselves as permanent residents of Florida at the homestead address. Applications may be filed on line through or in person at your county's Property Appraiser's Office.
And then there is "Portability." If a Homestead Exemption applicant claimed the exemption on a previous residence in the past 2 tax years, some or all of the difference between the market and assessed value of the previous homestead, if any, may be transferred to the new homestead resulting in additional tax savings in the first year of the new exemption.
There are additional exemptions available to widowed, disabled and blind homeowners, disabled veterans and income-qualified persons over the age of 65. Further, members of the armed services may also qualify for an additional exemption if he or she was deployed during the previous calendar year outside the continental United States, Alaska, and Hawaii in support of a designated operation (The Florida legislature designates which "operations" qualify for this exemption each year).
In summary, as you consider the total cost of owning a home or condo in Sarasota, you need to be aware of all of the various tax breaks that may be available to you. Your Sarasota Realtor can answer many of your questions about the Florida Homestead Exemption but you may also want to visit the Sarasota County Appraiser’s Office website or the Manatee County Property Appraiser’s Officewebsite for more information.