In Florida, the exempted portion of a property’s value is free of all nonschool taxes. Homestead exemptions reduce the taxable value of residents’ homes. They let homeowners save on taxes and help hold on to their homes if they experience financial troubles.
To claim homestead exemptions, the homeowner must be a legal resident of the state as of the first of the year, and the property must be his or her primary home. Also, residents must file an application with the property appraiser by March 1 annually.
Residents must provide a voter registration card, Florida driver’s license or Florida vehicle registrations for all vehicles when applying for a homestead exemption. They also can submit a declaration of domicile document, a form that proves residency. These forms are available at local Records, Taxes and Treasury Division offices. Residents also need to present the following documents, if applicable:
- Green card
– if they’re not citizens but are permanent residents
- Social Security number
- Paid tax
Florida’s constitution gives homeowners a standard exemption of up to $25,000. They can apply this amount against the appraised value of their property. Homes appraised between $50,0000 and $75,000 qualify for an extra exemption of up to $25,000.
Certain individuals receive additional exemptions. For example, veterans with a service-related disability get $5,000, and totally and permanently disabled civilians get $500. Also, the spouses of first responders who died while performing their duties receive an exemption from all taxes.
Save Our Homes Amendment
Amendment 10 of Florida’s constitution limits property assessment increases on homes with homestead exemptions. The Save Our Homes amendment caps increases to the lesser of the consumer price index or 3 percent of the prior year’s assessed value. The cap begins the year after the property owner receives a homestead exemption and remains in effect until ownership of the property changes.
Protection from Creditors
If Florida residents run into financial troubles, the state’s constitution exempts homesteads from forced sales and execution of judgments. The constitution doesn’t set a limit, so residents get unlimited protection. This means that creditors can't take a resident's home, even if he or she files a bankruptcy petition. Floridians can include a half acre of property within a municipality as part of their homestead. They also can include 160 acres of contiguous land outside a municipality, along with buildings and structures on this property, under their homestead umbrella.
This protection doesn't apply to tax liens. It also doesn't apply to contractors who worked on the property or homeowners' associations. A contractor can place a lien on a home to force the owner to pay for home improvement labor and supplies, and homeowners' associations can place a lien for uncollected dues.