The Florida Homestead Exemption is a legal provision that offers property tax relief to homeowners in Florida on their primary residence. It reduces the property’s taxable value by up to $50,000 for eligible homeowners, thereby lowering their property tax liability. Additionally, this exemption provides significant protection against forced sale by creditors and may impact the property transfer upon the owner’s death.
The Florida homestead exemption also caps the increase in the assessed value of the homestead equal to 3% or the annual Consumer Price Index (CPI), whichever is less. This cap is otherwise known as the Save Our Homes benefit.
How to Qualify for the Homestead Exemption
There are four rules to qualify for the Florida homestead exemption:
- You must be the property owner.
- The property must be your permanent residence.
- You must have lived in the property as of January 1 of the calendar year for which you want the exemption to apply.
- You cannot have rented out the property for more than 30 days in the calendar year.
Homestead Exemption Statute
In Florida, the homestead exemption statute is found in section 196.031. The statute specifies that a person who has legal or beneficial title to homestead property in Florida and actually resides in the home as their permanent residence qualifies for a reduction of up to $50,000 in assessed value for property tax purposes.
The homestead statue allows a joint owner of homestead property who lives on the property by themselves to qualify for the exemption so long as the property is owned as tenants by entireties or joint tenants with right of survivorship.
You must be a Florida resident to qualify for the Florida homestead exemption. Residency is a matter of intent. You must occupy a Florida property with the intent to make it your permanent residence.
One common way of establishing intent is to record a Declaration of Domicile with the clerk of the court. The declaration of domicile is evidence of Florida residency, but it alone is not conclusive proof.
Here are the documents you will need to submit when applying for the homestead exemption in Florida:
- A valid Florida driver’s license.
- A copy of the recorded deed or tax bill.
- Vehicle registration.
Homestead Exemption When House is in a Trust
You can still qualify for the Florida homestead exemption when your home is owned by a trust. In addition to the normal documentation, you will need to provide either a certificate of trust or certain trust pages. In some counties, you may have to provide the entire trust agreement.
The trust needs to explicitly provide the exemption applicant exclusive right to occupy and possess the homestead property for life. Otherwise, the county will likely deny the homestead exemption. Including proper language in a deed to trust will sometimes alleviate the need to provide the county with a copy of the trust documents.
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