As winter approaches, the snowbirds descend on Florida. Many of these non-residents own Florida real estate, but cannot qualify for Florida homestead exemptions unless the Florida home is the primary residence, or homestead. Snowbirds and other non-resident Florida property owners must pay the full amount of ad valorem property taxes, while numerous exemptions exist for Florida residents.
At the time of publication, anyone owning and residing on Florida property and declaring that dwelling as the permanent residence as of January 1, may receive a homestead exemption on the value of the property for tax purposes of up to $50,000. The initial $25,000 applies to school district and other property taxes. The second $25,000 applies to an assessed value between $50,000 and $75,000 and only to non-school taxes, according to the Florida Department of Revenue. For married couples, if title to the property is only in one spouse's name, the other is eligible for the exemption with the titleholder's consent.
Proof of Florida Residency
Applicants for the homestead exemption must answer numerous questions correctly to receive the exemption. These include the actual address of the property, the titleholder of the residence on January 1, and the length of local Florida residency. Proof of the latter includes a voter's registration card or a declaration of domicile affidavit. Applicants must also prove that the dwelling is the legal residence as of January 1. Those who drive motor vehicles must have a Florida driver's license and Florida license plates on the vehicles.
Homestead Exemption for Resident Over Age 65
By Florida law, municipal or county governments may permit additional homestead exemptions of up to $50,000 for permanent residents over age 65. Unlike the standard Florida homestead exemption, income limits apply. The income amount is adjusted on the first day of each year, based on the cost-of-living index. The cost-of-living index, issued each year by the U.S. Department of Labor, is a national average of monthly consumer price index amounts.
Approved by voters, Amendment 7 provides an additional tax exemption on Florida homestead property owned by certain veterans of the U.S. armed forces. Veterans must be at minimum of 65 years of age, honorably discharged, and partially disabled from a service-related disability resulting from combat. Only those veterans residing in Florida when entering the armed forces are eligible. Eligible veterans must apply for this exemption from their county property appraiser.