Everyone knows billionaires and corporations have all kinds of ways to legally avoid paying taxes, but so do you – if you are a Florida resident and you own the home you live in. Not only that, but this tax-saving strategy is brought to you by none other than Florida’s government.
The homestead exemption allows all legal Florida residents to cut the taxable value of their homes by up to $50,000. The formula for figuring out your exemption is not as simple as it sounds – this is the government, right? But the bottom line is that the county property appraiser automatically subtracts up to $50,000 from the value of your home before figuring out what taxes you will owe.
So, if your home’s assessed valuation is $200,000 and you get a $50,000 exemption, you will pay taxes on $150,000.
Some important considerations apply:
- You must own (not rent) the property and be living there on January 1 of the year you file.
- You may only claim the exemption on one property, and it must be the one you live in full-time (no vacation or weekend houses).
- You cannot be receiving a similar discount in any other county, state, or country than the one where your primary residence is located.
- The exemption is not just a straight $50,000 subtraction but is applied to the first and third $25,000 of assessed value. That means that if your property is assessed at $50,000, you only get a $25,000 exemption.
When should you file for homestead exemption? The regular deadline for this year was March 1, but do not worry; you have not missed your chance. You can late-file for this year until September 20, 2021. That is a hard deadline; the state accepts absolutely no applications after that.
There is more good news for Florida property owners (which is something you do not usually hear):
Save Our Homes
This program makes your remaining tax bill a little less painful. The taxable value of your homestead can never go up by more than 3 percent each year or by more than the percent increase in the previous year’s Consumer Price Index, whichever is smaller. The best part is it is in the Florida Constitution, so it is here to stay.
Other Property Tax Exemptions
You could also take one or more special exemptions for disabled, blind, widowed, or military taxpayers who have secured the homestead exemption. See your tax advisor for specific requirements on these:
- $500 Disability Exemption
- $500 Disability Exemption for Blind Persons
- $500 Exemption for Widowed Persons
- Additional Low-Income Senior Exemption
- $5,000 Veteran’s Disability Exemption
- Deployed Military Exemption
- Additional Exemption for Combat-Wounded Florida Disabled Veterans
- “Granny Flat” Exemption
If you are totally and permanently disabled, claim this with a letter from a Florida-licensed physician to prove such condition.
Show proof of blindness with a certificate from the Division of Blind Services of the Department of Education or the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.
Prove your spouse’s passing with a death certificate, newspaper clipping or memorial.
You must be at least 65 on January 1 and your total household gross adjusted income for the previous year cannot exceed a certain amount (which is adjusted each year). You must apply for this exemption each year.
You may seek this if you were disabled in military service incident during wartime or if you are the surviving spouse of a qualifying veteran (unless you have remarried).
Apply for this every year to take an additional percentage off your property’s taxable value. Show proof that you served on active duty outside the United States during the immediate prior year in support of one of several designated military operations.
If you are a combat-disabled veteran who is 65 or older as of January 1, and if your disability is combat-related, you can get an additional discount. As of 2021, the exemption is also available to surviving spouses who have not remarried.
If you add on to your home so parents or grandparents can live with you, you could exempt the construction cost up to 20% of the homestead value.
These exemptions completely eliminate the ad valorem portion of your tax bill – the one that is based on the value of your property. You will still be liable for other taxes on your bill, but these can cut your bill by quite a bit.
- Full Exemption for Veteran’s Service-Connected Total and Permanent Disability
- Full Exemption for Totally and Permanently Disabled Persons
- Full Exemption for Totally and Permanently Disabled First Responders
- Surviving Spouse of Military Veteran or First Responder
You can claim this if you are an honorably discharged veteran with a service-connected total and permanent disability. If you are the surviving spouse of someone who died of a service-connected cause while on active duty, you can also claim it if you have not remarried.
This exemption is for totally and permanently disabled people who must use a wheelchair for mobility or who are legally blind. Income limits apply, and you must show proof from a Florida-licensed physician
You can qualify if you were totally and permanently disabled in the line of duty with a Florida agency. If you are the surviving spouse of a qualifying person and you have not qualified, you can apply.
This exemption grants full homestead property tax relief to the surviving spouses of military veterans or first responders who die from service- or job-connected causes.
Taxes do not have to be inevitable – and even the state of Florida offers ways of cutting your tax bill. Contact OC Estate & Elder Law at (954)251-0332 or email@example.com for a free phone consultation to make tax relief part of your estate plan. Our attorneys are fluent in English, Spanish, and Russian.