Florida Homestead Explained

What is Florida Homestead Property Tax Exemption?

Florida Homestead Exemption is a constitutional guarantee that reduces the value of a home for assessment of property taxes by $50,000, so a home that was actually worth $100,000 would be taxed as though it was worth only $50,000. However, the second $25,000 of homestead coverage does not apply to the school portion of property taxes — and only applies to the third $25,000 of a property’s total just value (i.e., that portion of a property’s value between $50,000-$75,000).

Additionally, the Florida homestead exemption caps the rate at which property assessments may be increased annually. Though millage rates may be changed, the assessed value a house with a homestead exemption can be increased by is fixed. This is the result of the “Save Our Homes” Amendment to the Florida Constitution which was passed by voters in 1992, and went into effect in 1995. The amendment caps the increase of the assessed value of a home with a homestead exemption to the lesser of 3% or the rate of inflation.

Homestead exemptions are only available on an individual’s primary home. Therefore, this exemption does not apply to businesses, rental property, second homes, homeowners claiming permanent residency-based exemptions or tax credits in other states, or homes with owners that do not claim Florida as their primary residence. Because of the “portability” provision of the January 2008 constitutional amendment, a homesteaded owner may now move up to $500,000 of the “Save Our Homes” benefit from one Florida home to the next. However, acquiring a house that had a homestead exemption does not entitle the buyer to retain the low tax rate enjoyed by the previous homesteaded resident, as homestead exemptions cannot be inherited or purchased.

If you are receiving homestead exemption but have moved, you must re-apply on your new residence. If you own vacant property adjoining your homestead parcel, you may wish to combine them for tax roll purposes, so save our homes protection extends to the additional lot(s).

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.

Qualifying and Applying for Homestead Exemption

There are two deadlines which must be met in order to benefit from the Homestead Exemption.

In order to meet the qualification deadline for the exemption you must be a Florida resident and own and occupy the property as your permanent residence on January 1st of the year you claim the exemption. You may also qualify for the exemption if you have a beneficial interest in the property under a 98 year lease or a life estate.

In order to meet the application deadline you must apply as legal owner between January 1 and March 1st of the year for which you are claiming the exemption.

March 1 of each year is the last day to submit a timely filed homestead exemption application. Nevertheless, the property appraiser’s office will consider homestead exemption applications filed after the March 1 deadline. Applicants that would have otherwise qualified to receive the homestead exemption, but were not able to apply on time, may be granted the homestead exemption. However, these applications must be filed in person and the applicants must state the reasons why they were not able to file on time.

When applying for the Homestead Exemption, you will need to bring several items listed below that serve as evidence of property ownership and Florida residence. Married couples are required to bring this information for both spouses. Click here for a definition of permanent residency.

Evidence of ownership or beneficial interest

By the time you come into our office to file an application, it is very likely that your name will already be in our records showing you as the property owner. However, it is recommended that you bring with you a copy of one of the following:

  • A copy of your deed to the property, or
  • Tax bill, or Notice of Proposed Property Taxes, or
  • A copy of a proprietary lease to a cooperative, a trust agreement, or a last will and testament may also be used to confirm beneficial interest

Evidence of permanent Florida Residence

All applicants must present a valid Florida Drivers License showing the correct address. If you do not drive, you must show a Florida ID issued by the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles with the correct address. (Valid in Florida Only driver’s license or ID are not acceptable.) And you must bring one of the following:

  • Florida vehicle registration
  • Proof of Florida voter registration
  • A copy of the first page of your most recent income tax return showing your home address
  • A professional license issued by the State of Florida

If you are a Permanent Resident and not a U.S. Citizen, you will need to show your Green Card.

All applicants are required by Florida law to provide their Social Security Number, according to Florida Statute 196.011(1)(b). Married individuals must always provide this information for their spouse, whether or not the spouse’s name appears on the deed.

Online Application for Florida Homestead Exemption for Sarasota County Residents

Required information for the online application process:

  • Date of permanent Florida residency
  • Date of permanent occupancy in home
  • Date of Birth of applicant
  • Social Security number of applicant and spouse (if applicable)
  • Address listed on your IRS return
  • Last year’s address
  • Driver’s license number or Florida Identification Card and issue date
  • Vehicle registration tag number (if applicable)
  • Permanent resident Alien Card (Green Card), if not a United States citizen
  • Physical address of other property (if applicable)
  • Voter Identification Number (if applicable, must have current address)


Sarasota County residents apply in person or by Online Application

Charlotte County residents apply in person or by mail

Manatee County residences apply in person or by mail

*references Wikipedia, Sarasota County Property Appraiser, Charlotte County Property Appraiser

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