Homestead Property Tax Exemption
ArticleVII, Section 6, of the Florida Constitution provides that every person who on January 1st has legal or equitable title to real estate and maintains it as his/her permanent residence is entitled to a $25,000 homestead property tax exemption or a percentage thereof if the ownership interest is less than 100%. This Constitutional provision also states that only one homestead exemption shall be allowed to any individual or family unit.
To receive the benefit of the homestead tax exemption a taxpayer must qualify on or before January 1st and must make an application with the Property Appraiser on or before March 1st of the year in which the benefit is first requested. It is important to remember that the homestead exemption benefit does not automatically transfer to a new residence. In accordance with State law, a new application is required if you move or if you change the manner in which title is held on your existing homestead.
Documents Required For All Owners Filing For Homestead Exemption
Florida Driver's License, or, if you do not drive, a Florida Identification Card;
Florida Vehicle Registration, for all vehicles owned or leased by you, or registered to your business;
County Voter Registration Card, if you are registered to vote;
Social Security card or other official document that includes the social security number. (Social Security documentation is required for the spouse of each applicant even if said spouse has no ownership interest in the homestead property);
If you are not a U.S. citizen, a Permanent Resident Alien Card ("Green Card");
If property is in trust, a copy of the trust agreement or a copy of a recorded Memorandum of Trust;
If the taxpayer owns property in any other State or Country, a letter from the appropriate agency verifying that the taxpayer does not receive benefits based on permanent residency in that jurisdiction;
A copy of your recorded deed or tax bill for property identification purposes;
If the dwelling is a manufactured home, registration(s) or title(s) for the manufactured home.
Other Types of Exemptions and Assessment Reductions Available on Homestead Property
Additional Homestead Exemption Up to $25,000 - This additional homestead exemption is automatically applied to any property that receives the original $25,000 homestead tax exemption. To receive the full additional $25,000 homestead exemption the property's assessed value must be at least $75,000. If the assessed value is lower than $75,000, the additional homestead exemption will be less than $25,000. For example:
Assessed Value Additional Homestead Exemption
$50,000 or Less $0
($50,000 - $50,000 = $0)
- No Additional Homestead -
($53,890 - $50,000 = $3,890)
- Partial Additional Homestead -
($67,250 - $50,000 = $17,250)
- Partial Additional Homestead -
($75,000 - $50,000 = $25,000
- Maximum Additional Homestead -
$500 Widow/Widower Exemption - Must be a widow or widower prior to January 1st and cannot be remarried; must be a permanent resident of Florida and provide a copy of spouse's death certificate to the Property Appraiser when applying; this exemption can be applied to any property owned by the eligible person.
$500 Disability Exemption - Must be a permanent resident of Florida and provide a Physician's Certificate from one Florida licensed doctor, or documentation from the Social Security Administration; this exemption can be applied to any property owned by the eligible person.
$500 Exemption for Blind Persons - Must be a permanent resident of Florida and provide an Optometrist's Certification of Disability, a certificate from the Division of Blind Services or the United States Department of Veterans Affairs or the Social Security Administration certifying the applicant to be blind; this exemption can be applied to any property owned by the eligible person.
Exemption for Totally & Permanently Disabled Persons (Civilian) - Must be (1) a quadriplegic, or (2) a paraplegic, hemiplegic or other totally and permanently disabled person who is confined to a wheel chair for mobility or is legally blind and meets the income requirements as set forth by statute; must provide a Physician's Certificate from two Florida licensed doctors; applies only to homestead property.
$5,000 Exemption for Disabled Veterans - Must have a service-connected disability rated between 10% and 100%; must provide a certificate from the United States Government or a letter from Veterans Affairs; under certain circumstances, the benefit of this exemption can carry over to the veteran's surviving spouse (who is not remarried); this exemption can be applied to any property owned by the eligible person.
Service-Connected Total & Permanent Disability Exemption - Veteran must be considered totally and permanently disabled due to a service-connected cause, or be the surviving spouse (who is not remarried) of a qualifying veteran; or the surviving spouse (who is not remarried) of a Florida resident veteran who died from service-connected causes while on active duty with the United States Armed Forces; must provide a certificate from the United States Government or a letter from Veterans Affairs, and may be requested to provide additional documents to prove the residency of a deceased veteran; this exemption applies only to homestead property.
Additional Exemption for Limited-Income Seniors 65 Years and Older - Must be 65 years old or older on January 1st and receive homestead exemption; must have an adjusted household income not exceeding approximately $27,030, which is adjusted annually based on the Consumer Price Index, and provided to the Property Appraiser's office by the Department of Revenue in mid-January each year. An initial application must be filed with the Property Appraiser's office together with a copy of the prior year's Federal income tax returns if filed, and any wage and earning statements (W-2, 1099); an annual affirmation of income is required.
Reduction in Assessment for Living Quarters of Parents or Grandparents ("Granny Flat") Property must have an existing homestead exemption; construction or reconstruction of the quarters must be properly permitted; the occupant of the quarters must be a parent or grandparent of the owner; the occupant must be at least 62 years old and permanently reside on the property on or before January 1st of the year in which the reduction is requested; and the occupant cannot receive any benefits in any other county or state based on permanent residency. An initial application must be filed with the Property Appraiser's office, together with plans, permits and certificate of occupancy; an annual affirmation is required.
Homestead Tax Discount for Veterans Age 65 or Older with a Combat-Related Disability Must be 65 years old or older on January 1st; must be honorably discharged from military service; must have a service-connected disability of 10% or higher that is combat related; and must show proof that you were a Florida resident at the time of entering military service. The discount is equal to the percentage of combat related disability as determined by the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs.
Deployed Military Exemption - Available to service members who receive homestead exemption and who were deployed during the preceding calendar year on active duty outside the continental United States, Alaska, or Hawaii in connection with a designated military operation. The current designated military operations are Operation Freedom which began October 7, 2001; Operation Iraqi Freedom which began on March 19, 2003 and ended on August 31, 2010; or Operation New Dawn which began on September 1, 2010. The amount of the exemption is determined by the number of days deployed. An application must be filed with the Property Appraiser's office on or before March 1st of the year following the qualified deployment, together with documentation proving the dates of deployment.
Non-Profit Property Tax Exemptions
Property that is owned by an exempt entity and used exclusively or predominantly for an exempt purpose as of January 1st of the year the organization requests an exemption may qualify for tax exemption. The organization must file an original application for exemption with the Property Appraiser between January 2nd and March 1st.
The organizations must fit certain definitions and meet criteria of Chapter 196 of the Florida Statutes, such as:
Must have legal title on January 1 (§196.011(1)., F.S);
Must use the property for an exempt purpose on January 1 (§196.192, F.S.);
The organization using property for religious, literary, scientific or charitable purposes must be non-profit (§196.195(4), F.S.). Property Appraisers look at financial information provided and look at the reasonableness of salaries, charges for services rendered in relation to value of services, and other items to determine whether property is used for profit making purposes (§196.195(2), F.S.).
Documents Required for All Organizations Applying for a Tax Exemption
A copy of the organization's federal tax return (if filed), and an annual income & expense statement or annual budget;
A copy of a valid 501(c)(3) Internal Revenue Service determination;
A copy of a valid Consumer Certificate of Exemption from the Florida Department of Revenue (a/k/a sales tax exemption certificate);
A copy of the Articles of Incorporation or Articles of Organization, and by-laws.
Additional Requirements for Certain Types of Non-Profit Organizations
Churches - The Internal Revenue does not require all church organizations to have a 501(c)(3) designation. Accordingly, only those religious organizations that have obtained a 501(c)(3) designation must provide a copy of their determination letter. Churches should also provide the following additional documentation:
A copy of the Church Charter if one exists;
Copies of Church bulletins if they assist in establishing how the property was used on January 1st of the year in which they are applying;
If there is no actual use on January 1st because the building is in need of renovation or the land is vacant, then the religious organization must show that affirmative steps have been taken to prepare the property for use as a house of public worship. Documents required to be submitted to the Property Appraiser may include environmental or land use permitting activities, creation of architectural plans or schematic drawings, land clearing or site preparation, construction or renovation activities, or other similar activities that demonstrate a commitment of the property to a religious use.
Charter Schools - Charter schools can own or rent a property and still receive an educational exemption. If the property is rented by a charter school, the landlord is required under §196.1983, F.S. to pass the tax savings on to the school. The following additional documentation is required to be submitted to the Property Appraiser's office:
If the charter school rents space then they must file application form DR-504CS;
If the charter school owns the property then they must file application form DR-504;
A signed copy of the Charter as approved by the School Board.
Non-profit Homes for the Aged - Governed by §196.1975, F. S. The following additional documentation must be submitted to the Property Appraiser's Office:
Must file an application form DR-504HA instead of filing the DR-504 application;
Must provide affidavits (Form DR-504S) that include each tenant's income, age, and disability, if any, and affirms the tenant is a permanent resident of Florida, and considers the unit their permanent residence. Tenants cannot retain a homestead exemption on any other property.
Must provide a spreadsheet or letter that summarizes the contents of the tenant affidavits.
Affordable Housing - Governed by §196.1978, F.S. The following additional documentation must be submitted to the Property Appraiser's Office:
Tenant Spreadsheet that includes the unit number, tenant name, original lease or move-in date, household income verification date, total number of household occupants, total annual gross income for entire household, monthly rent, monthly rent contributed by tenant, utility allowance, whether they receive section 8 subsidy, number of bedrooms.
If there is no actual use on January 1st because the building is in need of renovation or the land is vacant, then the organization must show that affirmative steps have been taken to prepare the property for use as affordable housing. Documents required to be submitted to the Property Appraiser may include environmental or land use permitting activities, creation of architectural plans or schematic drawings, land clearing or site preparation, construction or renovation activities, or other similar activities that demonstrate a commitment of the property to providing affordable housing.
There are two types of conservation easement that provide property tax relief:
Exemption for Conservation Easements Dedicated in Perpetuity - Is governed by §196.26, F.S. and provides for an exemption on land that is dedicated in perpetuity for conservation purposes. If the land is used exclusively for conservation purposes and 100% of any income generated is returned to the easement conservation management, a total exemption will be granted pursuant to §196.26(2), F.S. If the land is used for allowed commercial purposes, allowing the owner of the land to earn income, then the land is exempt to the extent of 50% of the assessed value. The following requirements must be met:
Must file an application (Form DR-418C) with the Property Appraiser's office on or before March 1st;
Must file a re-application (Form DR-418CR) in each subsequent year;
A conservation easement dedicated in perpetuity must be recorded in the County Official Records and copy must be provided to the Property Appraiser;
The parcel must be 40 acres or greater. If the parcel is less than 40 acres it must meet the other requirements of §196.26(4), F.S. and be approved by the Acquisition and Restoration Council (ARC) as created in §259.035, F.S. The approval from the ARC must be provided at the time of application (contact ARC).
The Conservation Easement must include baseline documentation as to the species/natural values to be protected on the land;
A management plan should be submitted if one exists;
Existing buildings, structures, or other improvements situated on the parcel must be assessed according to Chapter 193, F.S. unless they are used for the maintenance of the easement.
Assessment of Lands Subject to a Conservation Easement - Is governed by §193.501, F.S. and provides that the value of land used for conservation purposes be assessed at its present use, which typically results in a reduction of the assessed value. To qualify for the conservation land classification, the following requirements must be met:
Must file an application (Form DR-482C) with the Property Appraiser's office on or before March 1st;
Must file a re-application (Form DR-482CR) in each subsequent year;
The land must have:
A Conservation Easement that retains land or water areas in their natural condition and limits dumping, removal of trees, dredging, and construction on the property, or;
Be designated as environmentally endangered land by formal resolution of the governing board of the municipality or county within which the land is located, or;
Be designated as conservation land in the adopted local comprehensive plan, or;
Convey the development rights or covenant with the appropriate board for conservation restrictions provided in §704.06(1), F.S. for a minimum of 10 years, and provide said document to the Property Appraiser.
Must notify the Property Appraiser promptly if the land becomes ineligible for assessment under this section. Failure to notify the Property Appraiser that the land was not eligible for the assessment for any year within the preceding 10 years will result in the owner being subject to taxes avoided plus 15% interest each year, and a penalty of 50% of the taxes avoided
Amendment 2 (2012)
Veterans Disabled Due to Combat Injury - Homestead Property Tax Discount
Amendment 2 was approved by the voters in the November 6, 2012 general election. This amendment changes Section 6 of Article VII. It expands the availability of the property tax discount on the homesteads of veterans who become disabled as the result of a combat injury. The amendment deletes the requirement that a veteran had to be a Florida resident at the time he or she entered military service to receive a veteran's homestead property tax discount. The amendment takes effect January 1, 2013, and applies to the 2013 tax year and every subsequent year. Veterans who were previously denied this discount because they were not Florida residents at the time of enlistment should be encouraged to reapply.
Amendment 9 (2012)
Homestead Property Tax Exemption for Surviving Spouse of Military Veteran or First Responder
Amendment 9 was approved by the voters in the November 6, 2012 general election. This amendment changes Section 6 of Article VII. It provided homestead property tax relief to the surviving spouse of a military veteran or a first responder who died in the line of duty. These constitutional changes:
Define the terms "first responder" and "in the line of duty";
Grant a total exemption to the homestead of the surviving spouse;
Specify that, for the surviving spouse to qualify for this exemption:
The military veteran must have died from service-connected causes while on active duty; or,
The first responder must have died in the line of duty.
Amendment 11 (2012)
Additional Homestead Tax Exemption for Seniors
This amendment allows counties or municipalities to grant either or both of the following:
An exemption not exceeding fifty-thousand dollars to any person who has the legal or equitable title to real estate, maintains their permanent residence on the property, is 65 or older, and whose household income does not exceed the household income limitation; or
An additional exemption equal to the assessed value of the property to an owner who has title to real estate in Florida with a just value less than $250,000, has maintained permanent residence on the property for not less than 25 years, is 65 or older and whose household income does not exceed the household income limitation.
The household income limit is adjusted each year on January 1, according to changes in the consumer price index (CPI).