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How does the Florida Homestead Exemption apply if you purchase a home by December 31?

November 3rd, 2023 by Sean Stephens

Purchasing a home by December 31st allows you to apply for the Florida Homestead Exemption starting in January!

What is the Florida Homestead Exemption? How does the Florida Homestead Exemption work?Sebring FL USDA Loans

The Florida Homestead Exemption allows homeowners in the state of Florida to save money on their property taxes by reducing the taxable value of their property. This lower taxable property value then results in lower property tax liability. Timing and eligibility details are critical when looking to qualify for this exemption.

Let’s break down how the Florida Homestead Exemption works, how and who can apply, and the benefits that are available to those who are eligible.

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Qualifying for the Florida Homestead Exemption

Once you have closed on a home, property tax exemption benefits may then be available to you. Since timing is critical to qualify, be sure to investigate this right away. The Florida Homestead Exemption is a provision found within Article X, Section 4 of the Florida Constitution and additional details can be found within Article VII, Section 6.

The exemption providers each person who holds legal title to real estate as of January 1st and maintains the property as their primary residence, may receive up to a $50,000 homestead exemption. Note that the property must be the primary residence and not a second home or investment property as a qualification requirement.

An explanation provided by the Highlands County Property Appraiser is as follows:

Florida Homestead Exemption

Every person who has the legal or equitable title to real estate as of January 1 and maintains it as their permanent residence or as the residence of another legally or naturally dependent upon the owner may be entitled to up to $50,000 homestead exemption.

The first $25,000 applies to all property taxes, including school district taxes. The additional exemption up to $25,000, applies to the assessed value between $50,000 and $75,000 and only to non-school taxes.”

“In addition, assessed value increases on your homestead property will not exceed the lower of 3% per year, or average CPI, exclusive of any additions or renovations to the homestead.”

Be sure to contact your local county property appraiser to ask questions and confirm all deadlines. 

Filing Deadline Requirements For The Florida Homestead Exemption

If you are eligible for the Florida Homestead Exemption, the deadline to file is March 1st of the year for which the exemption will apply. If March 1st is a weekend or a holiday, or if you have late filing questions, be sure to contact your local property appraiser for additional confirmations.

Florida Homestead Exemption Questions to Prepare For

Homestead Exemption Be prepared to answer the following questions and any additional questions they may have:

  1. Whose name or names were on the title on January 1st?
  2. What is your social security number and your spouse’s social security number (if applicable)?
  3. Were you or your dependent living in the dwelling on January 1st?
  4. Do you claim residency in another county or state?

These examples of the types of questions to be asked were provided by the Florida Department of Revenue, however, the property appraiser may ask additional questions. If you have moved from a previous Florida homestead, you may also be eligible to port your entire homestead, or a portion of it, through the Save our Homes Portability Transfer.

How is the 3% Save Our Homes Cap (SOH) and Florida Homestead Exemption connected?

The Palm Beach County Property Appraiser website provides the following explanation:

“In 1994 the State of Florida established a 3% Save Our Homes Cap (SOH) assessment limit on all residential properties that receive a homestead exemption. The 3% SOH Cap limits any increase to the assessed value of a homestead exempt property for tax purposes to a maximum of 3% each year or the amount of the change in the Consumer Price Index, whichever is lower.”

“Properties are assessed at the Fair Market Value when a change of ownership occurs and in the first year it receives the homestead exemption. Once the exemption is applied for, the cap or base year is established, each year thereafter, the SOH cap applies. The 3% SOH Cap remains in effect as long as the property is homestead exempt or until the property is sold.”

Remember that in order for the 3% SOH cap to apply, you must properly file for the homestead exemption as discussed above.

Other Florida Property Tax Exemptions

Additionally, there are many other Florida property tax exemptions which include:

  • Active-Duty Military & Veterans
  • Tax benefits for persons over 65
  • Greenbelt / Ag Exemption

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