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How the Florida Homestead Exemption Works (2021)

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Amy Beardsley

By: Amy Beardsley

Edited by John Leach

Last Updated June 24, 2021

One of the highest costs of homeownership in Florida is property taxes. The amount you pay can vary according to the city or county where you live. If you already own a home in Florida or are looking to buy one, the Florida homestead exemption can reduce your tax burden.

Knowing whether you qualify or how to apply for the homestead exemption in Florida isn’t as difficult as you might think. Here’s a guide to understanding the tax exemption to help you save money as a homeowner.

Another way to lower the costs of homeownership is to shop around for home insurance. Using Insurify, compare rates from several insurers to get the coverage you need at a price that fits your budget.

Florida Homestead Exemption 101

The homestead exemption in Florida applies to property taxes. Generally, a property appraiser determines the value of all property within an area, and the assessed value is used to determine the amount of ad valorem tax, or property tax.

How much you pay depends on the decisions and needs of your local tax authorities. The amount can fluctuate, though the property tax exemption shields part of the assessed value when calculating property taxes.

Property can qualify for a homestead exemption if you’re a Florida resident and the home is your primary residence. Because you’re not paying property taxes on the home’s full value, the total amount you pay is less than you would pay if the house were a second home, rental property, or vacation home.

Cost of the Homestead Exemption in Florida

Some locations in the United States exempt a percentage of a home’s value. However, Florida law excludes a specific dollar amount under the homestead tax exemption. The homestead exemption in Florida is a state law, which means it’s the same no matter where you live.

You could claim up to a $50,000 homestead exemption on your primary residence. The first $25,000 of the exemption applies to all taxing authorities. You can get an additional $25,000 exemption that excludes school taxes if your assessed value is more than $50,000.

Here are a few examples to help you understand how it might work:

  • For a $42,000 home, the first $25,000 is exempt from all property taxes. The remaining $17,000 is taxed at the normal rate.

  • For a $71,000 home, the first $25,000 is exempt from all property taxes. The next $25,000 is taxed normally. The remaining value of $21,000 excludes school district taxes.

You could save a significant amount. For instance, residents of Orange County, Florida, save approximately $750 each year with the homestead exemption.

Additional Savings Beyond the Homestead Exemption

The state of Florida has additional exemptions that can qualify some property owners for extra savings. If you’re a widow or widower, an exemption of $500 may be available to you if you’re a permanent Florida resident.

People with a permanent disability, including people with paraplegic and hemiplegic, can qualify for an exemption as long as their gross income from the prior year doesn’t exceed Florida law’s annual limitation. However, quadriplegic persons aren’t subject to income limitations for a disability exemption.

A service member with an honorable discharge and a service-connected disability can qualify for an exemption on real estate under certain conditions. Additional exemptions are available for:

  • First responders

  • Active duty military members

  • Veterans

  • Surviving spouse of a veteran

  • Blind persons

  • Seniors

If you think you may qualify for these or other exemptions, contact your local county official for additional information.

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Eligibility Requirements for the Florida Homestead Exemption

The tax savings could be significant, but not everyone is eligible. So, how do you qualify for a homestead exemption in Florida? You must meet specific criteria, including:

  • You must be the property owner.

  • The property must be your permanent residence OR the permanent residence of someone you can claim as a dependent on your taxes.

  • You must have been living in the home as of January 1st of the current tax year.

  • You must not have rented your homesteaded property for more than 30 days during a calendar year.

When you apply, you may need to provide a copy of your Florida driver’s license, Social Security number, declaration of domicile, and bank statement. The county appraiser may also request your vehicle registration, proof of Florida voter registration if you’re a U.S. citizen and your current employer’s name.

See more: Florida Homeowners Insurance Quotes

Do I have to apply for Homestead Exemption in Florida?

If you’re a first-time homeowner or have never received the Florida homestead exemption, you’re probably wondering how to get it.

You must submit an application the first year you’re eligible. The application is form DR-501, and it’s due to the property appraiser by March 1st of the tax year for which you want to receive the exemption.

You may apply online, by mail, or in person. To apply online, visit the website of your local county appraiser. You may need to establish an online account with a username and password to access and file the proper form.

To mail or file your homestead exemption application in person, submit by mail or bring all required forms and documentation to the local county property appraiser’s office. Use the state of Florida’s Department of Revenue directory to find your county official’s website, phone number, and address.

The good news is that you don’t have to submit a new application each year. The Florida statute requires your homestead status to renew automatically as long as you continue ownership and use it as your primary residence.

Florida homestead exemptions are an excellent way to reduce your property tax bill each year. However, the benefit can come with a lot of questions.

How long does the Florida Homestead Tax Exemption last?

Unless you cancel the homestead exemption, your tax savings automatically renew each year. The Florida homestead property exemption for real estate can last your entire lifetime under specific circumstances.

Each year, the county property appraiser will mail a receipt to confirm the renewal. You must contact the office if you no longer qualify for exempt status. For example, you’re no longer eligible if:

  • You sold or transferred title to someone else,

  • The home is not your permanent residence,

  • You rent the home for more than 30 days during the calendar year, or

  • You’re not a permanent resident of Florida

If you don’t notify the county appraiser of a change, you could face a homestead tax lien that includes a significant penalty and interest.

Florida Homestead Exemption FAQs

  • The amount of savings you get from Florida’s homestead exemption varies according to where you live. For example, the homestead exemption saves qualifying Florida homeowners in Orange County about $750 annually.

  • Your homestead exemption does not follow you if you move. The homestead is specific to the home you live in and cannot transfer to a new home, even if it is your primary residence. If you move, you must file for a new homestead exemption. You may transfer the Save Our Home benefit for a new homestead exemption if you move. The portability of the difference between a home’s taxable value and the market value can be transferred if you move from one Florida property to another.

  • Some mobile homes can qualify for a homestead exemption. If you own a mobile home and the land it sits on, you must permanently affix the mobile home to the land to qualify for the exemption. You must pay a $3 fee to the property appraiser to receive a Real Property (RP) decal to mark your mobile home as real property. Mobile homes on leased or rented land do not qualify.

Florida Homestead Exemption: The Bottom Line

Legal policies like homestead exemptions can be difficult to understand. We hope this guide clarified some details around the exemption to help you determine how to qualify. Keep in mind that title companies and realtors often arrange for the homestead exemption when you purchase a home.

However, if you aren’t sure you qualify or want to verify that you’re receiving the homestead exemption, contact your local county official. It could save you hundreds of dollars each year in property taxes.

Comparing homeowners insurance quotes with Insurify is another excellent way to save money on your home. See how low your premium could be in as little as five minutes.

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Amy Beardsley
Amy Beardsley
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Insurance Writer

Amy is a personal finance and technology writer. With a background in the legal field and a bachelor's degree from Ferris State University, she has a talent for transforming complex topics into content that’s easy to understand. Connect with Amy on LinkedIn.

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