Florida Homestead Planning
Whether you are a long-time Florida resident or
just thinking about moving to the Sunshine State,
you know the state offers a whole host of wonderful
benefits including a superior quality of life, no state
taxes and a warm, comfortable climate year round.
One of the other great benefits of living in Florida
is Florida’s Homestead Exemption.
Take Advantage of the Florida Homestead Exemption
If you own Florida property and make it your permanent residence (or the permanent residence of your dependent), then you may be eligible to receive a homestead tax exemption of up to $50,000 for property tax purposes. What’s more, the “Save Our Homes” Amendment to the Florida Constitution stipulates that the assessed value of your’s homestead property cannot increase by more than 3% per year or the percent change in the Consumer Price Index, whichever is less.
In addition, “homesteading” your property exempts the property from levy and execution by judgment creditors. Exceptions to this creditor protection include tax liens, mechanics’ liens associated with labor or materials to repair or improve the homestead property, and voluntary liens including mortgages and homeowners’ association liens.
The caveat to the Florida Homestead Exemption is that only a “natural person” qualifies for the protection; therefore, properties titled in the name of irrevocable trusts, corporations, limited liability companies or partnerships will not qualify unless certain language referenced above is included in the trust document or other legal document depending on the form of legal entity assuring that equitable title to the property remains with the individual/natural person. The same issue does not apply regarding properties owned by a revocable trust.
How do you qualify a property as homestead property in order to obtain all of the above benefits? The protections attach the day you first occupy the property with the intent to make it your permanent Florida homestead. Co-ownership of the property may jeopardize the exemption if one of the co-owners does not reside on the property.
The Florida Homestead Exemption requires that an individual be a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident, a Florida resident, that he or she does not have an exemption from any other state on another property, and that he or she occupies his/her home on January 1, and files papers with the county tax assessor or property appraiser to claim homestead by March 1. Even a Snowbird who lives in his/her homestead property during the cold months and who heads up north during the warmer months could rent his/her home during those warmer months without losing the homestead exemption, provided that the property remains the primary residence of the individual.
Elder Law Associates PA can assist you with homestead planning to help you qualify for the Florida Homestead Exemption. For more information, please contact us or call 1-800-ELDERLAW or (561) 750-3850 today.
How New Florida Constitutional Amendments May Affect Your Homestead Exemption and Property Taxes
Two new amendments approved by Florida voters in November 2020 may affect your property taxes. Both amendments became effective January 1, 2021. Amendment 5 to the Florida Constitution extends the time frame within which portability benefits can be transferred from two to three years. Amendment 6 extends the property tax exemption of combat-wounded veterans to their surviving spouses.
What Does This Mean for You?
Regarding portability, Amendment 5 will enable eligible homesteaded property owners to pay less on their property taxes on their new homes by moving their “Save Our Homes” savings (up to $500,000) from one Florida property to another when establishing their Homestead Exemption on their new property. Since January 1, 2021, property owners now have three years to use this portability. New property owners must apply for a Homestead Exemption and submit a Portability Application within three years of the abandonment of the Homestead Exemption at their previous property.
Amendment 6 now extends the Disabled Veteran’s Exemption, a Homestead Exemption for combat-wounded veterans, to their surviving spouses. Prior to January 1, combat-wounded veterans age 65 and older were able to receive a property tax discount equal to their combat-related disability rating percentage on their homesteaded property. This discount expired on the veteran’s death and was not extended to the veteran’s spouse. The new amendment allows the veteran’s surviving spouse to continue to receive the Homestead Exemption until the spouse either remarries or sells the property. If the spouse sells the property and does not remarry, the spouse may file for and receive a discount on a new homestead property as long as the exemption amount doesn’t exceed the amount from the most recent ad valorem tax roll at his or her previous homesteaded residence.
Annual Senior Exemption Renewal Update
If you received the Senior Homestead Exemption in 2020, please note that renewal is not automatic. This exemption will not be listed on your Homestead Exemption renewal receipt. You will receive a new 2021 Senior Homestead Exemption card in February and must complete it and submit it to your Property Appraiser’s office before September 2021 to renew your Senior Homestead Exemption for the 2021 tax year. Keep an eye out for that renewal card coming in the mail.
If you have any questions about how the new amendments may affect your property taxes or the Senior Homestead Exemption, please contact your Florida county property appraiser’s office.
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