Applying for the Florida Homestead Exemption

    It’s the first week of January in Alachua County. Spent fireworks litter the streets and you’re dressed for summer. You’ve rung in the new year and now, if you bought a home last year, it’s time to apply for the homestead exemption, a tax break for permanent Florida residents that could reduce your property tax liability by up to $50,000. Read on to determine if you qualify for the popular exemption and how to apply.

    What is the Florida Homestead Exemption?

    The Florida Save Our Homes Act provides that if you’ve established your Florida home as your permanent residency by January 1 of this year, $50,000 of your assessed property value is exempt from taxation. If property taxes are imposed by your school district, the exemption is $25,000. (Another important stipulation of the Save Our Homes Act caps increases to your property’s assessed value at 3% per year.) The typical homestead exemption saves homeowners anywhere from $500 – $1,000 in property taxes.

    How Do I Qualify?

    In order to qualify for the homestead exemption you must be a bona fide Florida resident. For property tax purposes that means your home deed was recorded before January 1 of this year. It also means you’ve signaled your intent to establish your primary residence in the state, such as obtaining a Florida driver’s license, registering your vehicles in Florida, opening local bank accounts, and registering to vote.

    Though not necessary, to really seal the deal you’ll have filed a Declaration of Domicile with the county clerk’s office before January 1 of this year. It also helps to cut ties with your old state. If the state you’re leaving collects state income tax or an estate tax, confirm your change of residence by taking specific steps to terminate your “resident status” there. And it probably goes without saying, but if you have a homestead exemption in another state, your Florida homestead exemption application will be denied.

    How Do I Apply?

    OK, I’m a bona fide Florida resident. How do I apply for the homestead exemption? To ensure you’re filing correctly, it’s best to go in person to your local Property Appraiser’s office. In Alachua County you’ll want to head over to 515 North Main Street in Gainesville. Make sure to bring the following documents for all owners, including spouses:

    • Florida automobile registration and driver’s license
    • If registered to vote, your Alachua County voter ID card
    • Social security numbers (required even if spouses are separated or if only one is on the deed)

    The deadline to file is March 1, 2020.

    Note: If you purchased your property after January 1 and your Notice of Proposed Property Tax — aka Truth in Millage or TRIM — indicates a homestead exemption, this exemption was granted to the prior owner and will no longer apply in the new year. Except when passing on a home to descendents, homestead exemptions are not transferable from one owner to another. To qualify for the exemption for the 2020 tax year, you’ll have to file a new application at the Property Appraiser’s offices by the March 1st deadline.

    Not sure if you qualify or still have questions? For further information on the homestead or other exemptions, feel free to contact Kristen Rabell of Rabell Realty Group at (352) 213-6760, or the Alachua County Property Appraiser’s office at (352) 374-5230. 

    Happy New Year! And happy homestead exemption filing!

    For our neighbors in Bradford, Columbia, Levy, and Marion counties, here are the addresses and phone numbers of property appraiser’s offices:

    Bradford County
    945 North Temple Ave
    Starke, FL
    (904) 966-6216 

    Columbia County
    139 NE Hernando Ave, Suite 238
    Lake City, FL
    (386) 758-1083

    Levy County
    355 South Court St
    Bronson, FL
    (352) 486-5222 

    Marion County
    501 SE 25th Ave
    Ocala, FL
    (352) 368-8300

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