Questions and answers on Florida's new property tax laws
On January 29, Florida voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment 1 to grant added tax relief to property owners. The new Florida Constitutional Amendment doubles the homestead exemption to $50,000; gives homesteaded owners the "portability" right to move Save Our Homes benefits to a new homesteaded property; grants businesses and mobile home residents a $25,000 break on tangible personal property taxes; and caps annual increases for non-homesteaded properties to no more than 10%. Most importantly, the proposal fully preserved our existing 3% Save Our Homes cap.
Homesteaded owners do NOT need to apply for the additional savings, as the $50,000 homestead exemption amount will be automatically applied starting this year. The Florida Department of Revenue (DOR) has drafted some initial forms and guidelines -- and is now working on drafting the administrative rules and additional forms to implement the rest of these new benefits. Click here to visit the DOR website
tracking these developments. You can also read the enabling legislation for the amendment by clicking here
if you'd like to learn more.
If you had homestead on one Florida property in 2007 and are now seeking to move your homestead to a new location in 2008 you can download the portability application below.
Q When will my homestead exemption increase?
A The higher exemption will take effect with the tax bills mailed out this November. Homeowners will see the change on the notices that the property appraiser mails in August stating this year's taxable value of their house.
Current homeowners who already receive the original $25,000 exemption do not need to apply for the increase. Recent buyers who began living in their home on Jan. 1 or earlier will receive the full tax break when they apply for homestead with the Property Appraiser's Office. The deadline for filing is March 1.
Remember, the additional $25,000 exemption will not apply to school taxes. Homes less than $50,000 in value will not benefit, while those with a value between $50,000 and $75,000 will only partially benefit.
Q How much can I expect to save?
A The average homeowner will save $308 because of the higher homestead exemption.
Q I haven't paid my 2007 tax bill yet. Can I return it and get the new tax breaks?
A No. The soonest any of the tax breaks take effect is with the 2008 tax bill that is mailed out in November.
Q When can I take advantage of portability?
A Immediately. The state Department of Revenue sent application forms to county property appraisers midday Wednesday. Anyone who moved within the state in 2007 can apply now to transfer their tax breaks from their old home to their new one and it will take effect on the tax bills they receive in November. Anyone who moved within the state after Jan. 1, can apply and the transfer will take effect on their 2009 tax bills. The same goes for anyone who moves before the end of the year. The constitutional amendment allows residents to transfer up to $500,000 in value exempt from taxation through Save Our Homes.
Q How do I apply for my portability?
A Go to your local property appraiser's website
, or download the application and send it to the Property Appraiser's Office. You may also go to one of the agency's offices and apply. The main address for your county can be found HERE
Q When can snowbirds, landlords, real estate investors and businesses benefit from the new cap on their taxable value of their property.
A Not until the tax bills mailed out in November 2009. This year will be the starting point for the break, which caps how much the taxable value of non-homesteaded property can increase at no more than 10 percent a year. Thus, the cap would prevent the tax value of the property from increasing more than 10 percent in 2009.
Q Will Tuesday's vote really bring tax relief?
A It depends.
Local governments can raise tax rates to offset lost revenue, but officials said that is highly unlikely.
Voters in Broward overwhelmingly supported the constitutional amendment. With 70 percent voting in favor, the amendment passed in every city.
Q What will happen to local services in say, Broward County?
A The state estimates that Broward schools will lose $145 million over the next five years as a result of Tuesday's vote and other area governments will lose $943 million.
Broward County and its 31 cities are just beginning to draw up next year's spending plans, but officials have warned of deep cuts in services. Layoffs in some governments are likely as well as cuts in police and fire protection.
The county will likely look at proposals shelved last year to close parks on their least visited days and trim library hours.
Q Could portability be thrown out in court?
A Yes. Lawsuits have already been filed challenging the fairness of Florida's tax system on behalf of owners of second homes and new state residents with larger tax bills than their neighbors. A number of legislators have warned for months that the plan could run into legal trouble. A legal opinion written for the Legislature by a tax lawyer also raised that concern.
Q Will there be more tax relief?
A Possibly. The Legislature will soon meet and could consider doing more. Also the state Taxation and Budget Reform Commission is meeting and could place proposals on the November ballot.