As a property owner in Florida, homestead exemption is one way to reduce the amount of real estate taxes you pay on your residential property.
In the State of Florida, if you own property and make the property your permanent residence as of January 1st of the tax year, you may qualify for homestead exemption and save hundreds of dollars. In Martin County, most homeowners save on average $400 - $600 each year. A common misconception is that you must reside on the property for a certain number of months each year in order to qualify for homestead exemption. There is no such requirement. However, your income tax return must be filed as a Florida resident.
Homestead exemption is $25,000 deducted from your assessed value before the taxes are calculated plus an additional homestead exemption up to $25,000 applied to the assessed value above $50,000. The additional exemption does not apply to school taxes. The year after you qualify for homestead exemption, your assessed value cannot increase more than 3% per year, or the increase in the consumer price index, whichever is lower. The increase is not automatic since the assessed value cannot be greater than the market value.
Listed below are the documents required to complete your homestead application. All of these documents are required for all owners who reside on your property (legible copies are acceptable). A husband and wife may apply for their spouse as long as they bring their spouse's documents. Homebound persons should contact the Property Appraiser's office to arrange a home visit to file an application. We are at your service and we will be most happy to assist you any way we can.
- Florida voter's information card OR a declaration of domicile recorded with the Clerk of the Court.
- Florida driver's license. If you don't drive, a Florida ID card.
- Florida vehicle registration, if you own or drive a vehicle in Florida (including leased vehicles).
- Social security card OR a document with your number on it (i.e. income tax return). You must submit your spouse's social security number, even if they do not own the property. Per Florida Statute 196.011(1b), the Property Appraiser's Office may not grant an application for exemptions if the applicant refuses to submit their social security number and the social security number of their spouse if they are married.
- Owners who have transferred the interest of their residential property into a trust must also bring a copy of their entire trust document when they apply. The Property Appraiser must be able to determine who has current beneficial interest in the trust in order to determine who may be eligible to qualify for homestead exemption.
- If you are not a U.S. citizen and have a permanent resident card, you may qualify for homestead exemption. You must bring in your permanent resident card and a declaration of domicile recorded with the Clerk of the Court when you apply.
Listed below are examples of common things that may cause you to lose your homestead exemption:
- Renting your property for more than 30 days per calendar year, for 2 consecutive years.
- Maintain or obtain an out-of-state residency based tax exemption, reduction, benefit, credit, etc. (e.g. STAR in NY, a veteran's exemption, the Massachusetts declaration of homestead, etc.) This requirement applies to jointly held property by husband and wife even if only one applies for homestead here and the other applies for the out-of-state tax credit. If you are in this category presently, you must cancel your out-of-state tax benefit effective January 1 of the year you apply for homestead exemption here. If either husband or wife own other Florida property, even individually, only one property can have the homestead exemption.
- Maintain or obtain a driver's license in any other state. A driver's license is residency based.
- Fail to register a vehicle in Florida if you drive it here.
- Registered to vote elsewhere. As a Martin County resident, this county must be the only place you are registered to vote. You may elect to file a declaration of domicile instead of registering to vote, but you still may not register to vote elsewhere.
We want all residents who qualify to have and keep their homestead exemption. This checklist is provided to avoid the pitfalls that can occur inadvertently and would result in back taxes that carry stiff penalties and interest charges.
By law, a homestead exemption is not transferable. If you move, your homestead exemption does not automatically follow you to your new residence. You must file a new application for your new residence.
While your homestead exemption is not transferable, you can transfer the accumulated Save Our Homes benefits (as defined by law) from one homestead to another homestead, anywhere in Florida. This is known as "portability" of your Save Our Homes tax savings benefit.
If you bought your property after January 1st of the current tax year and if the prior owner qualified for homestead exemption on January 1st, the prior owner’s exemption carries over for this year only and will be removed for the following year. You must file for your own homestead exemption.
If you are not sure if you have a current homestead exemption, please call or visit one of our offices and we will be glad to verify that for you.
How many days out of the year does someone have to live in Florida to be eligible for homestead exemption?
You must reside on your homestead property as your primary residence. However, there is no particular amount of time you have to be physically present on the property to qualify for homestead exemption. To qualify for homestead exemption, you have to declare Florida as your permanent residence. For example, if you vote, you must vote in Florida. If you drive, you must have a Florida driver’s license. Your home address on your federal income tax return should be Florida.There is no specific amount of time you must spend in Florida.
When and where do I file for homestead exemption and all other exemptions?
Initial application for homestead exemption and other exemptions must be made at the Property Appraiser's Office by March 1st of the year you are applying for. You may pre-file for exemptions anytime after you take ownership of the property, become a permanent resident or become eligible for specific exemptions for the following year's taxes.
See pull-down menu for “Forms and Applications” and then “Homestead Exemption Application.” Please be sure to follow the instructions to complete the application.
Can I still file for homestead exemption for this year if I missed the filing deadline?
The deadline to file for homestead exemption is March 1st of the current tax year. However, you may late file up to 25 days from that date the Notices of Proposed Property Taxes are mailed. For help, please contact our office at 772-288-5608.
If I tear down my house to rebuild, will I get to keep my homestead exemption and Save Our Homes benefit? The following procedure will be used for those properties with homestead exemption that are gutted, under major remodel or torn down as of January 1 of the tax year:
- Each property will be reviewed individually for eligibility to maintain homestead exemption and Save Our Homes benefits.
- Owner cannot have a residency based exemption anywhere else and must continue to be a Florida resident.
- For each tax year that the improvement remains under construction, it is the responsibility of the owner to contact our office and let us know the status of the construction as of January 1 of the tax year.
- Owner must show due diligence in completing the home construction. The construction time should be similar to other homes of that quality, size and amenities.
- Each owner will be required to sign an Affidavit of Intent, which means you still intend to make this your permanent residence.
- The homestead will continue to receive the Save Our Homes 3% cap as long as the owner meets the criteria for homestead exemption. We will determine the market value of the property as of January 1 of the year following substantial completion of the new home.
If the Property Appraiser determines that for any year within the previous 10 years a person was not entitled to homestead exemption and was granted an exemption, the Property Appraiser shall serve upon the owner a notice of intent to record in the public records of the county a notice of tax lien against any property owned by that person in the state. Any property owned by the taxpayer and situated in this state is subject to the taxes exempted by the improper homestead exemption, plus a penalty of 50% of the unpaid taxes for each year and interest at a rate of 15% per annum.
Florida voters approved a state constitutional amendment in 1992 to “cap” or limit increases in the assessed value of homestead-exempt property to 3% per year or the amount of increase in the consumer price index (CPI), whichever is lower.
- When a property with homestead exemption is sold, Florida law requires that the following year the homestead exemption and cap be removed, and the property be re-assessed to equal its market value. The buyer should not rely on the seller’s current property taxes as the amount of property taxes that the buyer may be obligated to pay in the year subsequent to purchase. A change of ownership triggers reassessment of the property that could result in higher property taxes. If you have any questions concerning valuation, contact the Property Appraiser’s office for information.
Warning: If you purchased your property after January 1st of the current tax year, you may have inherited the previous owner’s exemption and Save Our Homes benefit. By state law, this exemption and Save Our Homes benefit will be removed the following year. You must file for your own homestead exemption.
- The first year you receive your homestead exemption is your “base year, and the assessed value will be the same as the market value. The year after you first receive homestead exemption will be the first year the assessed value is capped, or limited from increasing. For example, if you have a new homestead exemption for 2017, your assessed value will not be capped or limited from increasing until 2018. The increase is not automatic since the assessed value cannot be greater than the market value.
- If you make additions or improvements to your property, the value of these improvements will be added to the roll regardless of the cap. For example, if you added a pool to your property in 2016, your 2017 assessed value can increase no more than 3% plus the value of the pool.
- The cap applies only to property value, not to property taxes.
- Non-homestead properties have a 10% cap.
- The homestead cap does not apply to portions of multi-use or multi-family properties that are being used for business or rental. For example, if you own a duplex, live in one half and rent the other, the homestead cap will only apply to the portion of the property you occupy as your homestead. The non-homesteaded portion of the property will have the non-homestead cap.
The assessed value can increase by the amount of the assessment cap even if the market value decreases, but the assessed value cannot exceed the market value.