The clock is ticking to file a Homestead Exemption application due March 1 of each year. Here are some basic facts to help you better understand this valuable exemption.
Definition of Homestead Exemption
It is a constitutional benefit of a $50,000 exemption from the property’s assessed value. It is granted to those applicants with legal or beneficial title in equity to real property as recorded in official records who are bona fide Florida residents living in a dwelling and making it their permanent home on January 1 of the taxable year. The first $25,000 is entirely exempt. The second $25,000 is to be applied to the value between $50,000 and $75,000, and does not include school taxes
Who Is Entitled to Homestead Exemption?
Under Florida law, the homestead exemption is only available to US citizens, permanent resident aliens, or others who are legally able to form the intent to remain permanently under immigration laws. Individuals only are eligible for homestead exemption; corporations or business entities do not qualify.
Your deed or document establishing your ownership or beneficial interest as of January 1 must be recorded in the County Public Records before your exemption can be approved. Without this evidence, Property Appraisers Offices are prohibited by state regulations from granting the exemption. As of January 1 of the year for which you are filing:
- You must be a resident of Florida.
- You must own and occupy the property as your permanent residence.
- You must hold title or beneficial interest to the property.
How to File for a Homestead Exemption
The Florida homestead exemption is not automatic. A homeowner must obtain a homestead exemption by filing for a homestead exemption with the Property Appraiser in the county in which the property is located. While most counties still use paper applications, a few larger counties offer online homestead filing. While the applicable statutes are the same in all 67 counties, the standards applied vary greatly. Some Property Appraiser offices require significantly more documentation than others, as determining eligibility is a matter within the discretion of each elected Property Appraiser.
If you received your homestead exemption for the previous year and still occupy, own, and make that residence your permanent home, a receipt will be mailed to you early in January. You need to notify the Property Appraiser’s office if you no longer qualify for these exemptions or you wish additional exemptions.
Where and When to Apply
It is not necessary to file an application every year as long as the property’s use and your ownership and Florida residency do not change. The following instructions apply to original applications for homestead and other exemptions:
- Where: Many counties allow you to file on-line. You may also pick up an application from one of your county property appraiser’s offices, or visit them online.
- When: You may file a new application for homestead exemption no later than March 1 of the year for which the exemption applies.