Understanding Florida's Homestead Exemption and Save our Homes Amendment
One of the most common misunderstandings is the belief that you have to live in your home at least six months (some say six months plus one day) to qualify. A Palm Coast resident can save over $800.00
By Toby Tobin
Palm Coast, FL – February 1, 2013 – As our thoughts turn from Holidays to taxes, questions about Florida's homestead exemption and Save our Homes Amendment begin to surface. It turns out that many people who think they understand the homesteading rules don’t. Those who don't understand can be passing up hundreds of dollars in property tax savings. The exemption reduces a qualified property's assessed value by $50,000 for most taxes and by $25,000 for school taxes. A Palm Coast resident can save over $800.00.
One of the most common misunderstandings is the belief that you have to live in your home at least six months (some say six months plus one day) to qualify. They are confusing something they have heard about income tax residency rules in other states with Florida's property tax exemption rules. The two are distinctly different.
Technically, to qualify for Florida's Homestead Exemption, you only have to live in the home as your permanent and legal residence on January 1 of the qualifying year. You can apply at the Property Appraiser's office for the exemption at any time during the year, but you must apply by March 1 of the qualifying year. Otherwise, the exemption will not take effect until the following year.
First time applicants must apply in person. Spouses information is required if the home is jointly owned. Be prepared to substantiate your claim of primary residence by providing:
Florida Drivers License or ID with correct mailing address
Florida vehicle registration with correct mailing address (If you own a vehicle)
Flagler County Voter's Registration with correct mailing address (if you vote)
Social Security Numbers for all applicants and spouse
Copy of the recorded deed or tax bill
Copy of the Mobile Home Registration of Titles if you live in a mobile home
If you were not born in the U.S., you will need to provide proof of citizenship or permanent residency or your U.S. Passport
If the property is in a Trust, a copy of the entire Trust must be provided
Homestead status is a precondition for Save Our Homes, which places a cap on the annual increase in a home's assessed value. The cap is the lesser of the Consumer Price Index increase or 3%. But remember that property taxes are a combination of taxable value and the applicable millage rate. The millage rate is determined by the taxing authorities and is not capped by Save Our Homes.
Florida assessments are set annually on January 1 of the tax year. The assessed value of your newly purchased home will be determined by its purchase price and the purchase price of similar nearby properties during the preceding year.
When in doubt, call the Property Appraiser's office at 386-313-4150 or visit their website at flaglerpa.com.