If you’ve purchased a home in Florida and it’s your primary residence, it is critical that you take advantage of the numerous benefits provided by Florida’s homestead laws. The laws cover real estate taxes, creditor protection and distribution to your heirs. They protect properties up to 160 acres outside of a municipality and up to a 1/2 acre within a municipality.
Homestead Tax Exemption
Every parcel of real property in the State of Florida has a just value, an assessed value, and a taxable value. The just value is the property’s market value according to the tax appraiser. The assessed value is the just value (market value) minus assessment limitations (see the Save Our Homes section below). The actual taxable value is the assessed value minus exemptions or discounts, and is the value the tax collector uses to calculate the taxes that you owe.
When purchasing a home, you should never assume your property taxes will be the same or even similar to the previous owner. As you will read below, there are a number of exemptions, discounts and caps that may have been affecting the prior owner’s tax bill. Any time a property changes hands, state law requires the property appraiser to remove any of these exemptions and reassess the property so that the assessed value equals the just value (market value).
Every person who owns real property in Florida as of January 1 of the tax year and makes the property their permanent residence or the permanent residence of a legal or natural dependent, may receive a property tax exemption up to $50,000. The first $25,000 applies to all property taxes. The added $25,000 applies to assessed value over $50,000 and only to non-school taxes. Nearly every property in our area would qualify for both based on current values. Application for the homestead tax exemption must be made with your local property appraiser by March 1 of the tax year you are applying for.
Save Our Homes Provision
Beginning the year after you receive a homestead exemption, the tax assessment on your home cannot increase by more than the change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) OR 3% each year, whichever is less. No matter how much the just value increases, your assessed value increases are capped!
If you sell your current home and move to another, you can take most, if not all of the savings with you – up to $500,000! This is called portability. If your new home has a higher just value (market value) than your former home, the portability amount is determined by subtracting the assessed value of the former home from its just value (market value).
Additional Tax Exemptions
Additional exemptions and discounts are available for a variety of special circumstances. These include a $500 exemption for widows, the disabled and the blind. Quadriplegics and other extreme cases may qualify for a complete exemption from all property taxes.
There are also exemptions and discounts for military veterans and first responders. Disabled veterans over the age of 65 may qualify for a discount percentage equal to the percentage of their disability. Veterans disabled 10% or more by misfortune or during wartime service may be eligible for up to $5000. Others may qualify for a complete exemption from all property taxes including veterans, first responders or the surviving spouses of those confined to a wheelchair, permanently and totally disabled, or those who died in the line of duty.
If you have been granted a homestead exemption you cannot be forced to sell your home to pay off a debt in the event the courts award a judgement against you. This does not apply to judgements relating to the property itself however, nor if a creditor can prove that you obtained the funds you owe fraudulently. Foreclosure due to non-payment of a mortgage, past due HOA assessments, liens relating to the improvement or repair of the home, and delinquent taxes do not qualify for protection.
What You Will Need
According to the Palm Beach County property appraiser, in order to apply you will need:
- Florida Driver’s License or Florida ID
- Florida Vehicle Registration
- Florida Voter’s ID (if you vote)
- Immigration documents if you are not a U.S. citizen
All of the documents should reflect the address of the property you wish to homestead. You have three options to submit your application: e-file, mail or by visiting a service center in person.
We always recommend you seek the advice of an attorney and a tax professional to determine how these laws apply to your unique situation.
Learn More Here:
Palm Beach County