florida homestead exemption act



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You can apply for the Homestead Ad Valorem Tax Exemption using our exclusive and proven services

You can file for Homestead by using our services, or use county property appraiser's website. You can file by visiting any of their offices. Contact us and we can help you with the forms, information and process to file your Homestead Tax Exemption in your county without hassle or mistakes thereby reducing the chances of denial by the property appraiser. Let us know if you have any questions.


The Florida statutes define "permanent residence" as follows:

"Permanent residence" means that place where a person has his true, fixed, and permanent home and principal establishment to which, whenever absent, he has the intention of returning. A person may have only one permanent residence at a time; and, once a permanent residence is established in a foreign state or country, it is presumed to continue until the person shows a change has occurred. Fla.Stat.Ann. § 196.012(17).

The court notes that Florida's definition of "permanent residence" is virtually the same as the definition of domicile for federal diversity jurisdiction purposes.

The requirements for entitlement to a homestead ad valorem tax exemption are: 
1. As of January 1, the applicant had legal or beneficial (equitable) title to the real property; and, 
2. As of January 1, the applicant made that property his/her permanent residence 
3. If not a U.S. citizen you must provide a copy of a permanent resident ID card 

To qualify for the permanent resident exemption, persons must complete a form containing sufficient information to enable the property appraiser to determine that their permanent residence is in Florida. Fla.Stat.Ann. § 196.121. The criteria listed above are the only issues to be resolved in determining homestead status. However, there is an infinite amount of evidence which the Property Appraiser may review. THE PROPERTY APPRAISER IS PRESUMED TO BE CORRECT IN HIS DECISION. IT IS UP TO YOU TO PROVIDE PROOF NECESSARY TO BE GRANTED THE EXEMPTION. When considering permanent residency, the property appraiser's office may consider any of the following relevant factors (Fla.Stat.Ann. § 196.015):
1. Driver license (NOTE: Individual home owner does not have to be a licensed driver in order to be entitled to homestead exemption and tax assessor has no authority to deny the homestead tax exemption merely because claimant is not such licensed driver.)
2. Voter registration (NOTE: Individual home owner does not have to be a registered voter in order to be entitled to homestead exemption and tax assessor has no authority to deny the homestead tax exemption merely because claimant is not such registered voter.)
3. Identification card 
4. Sworn affidavit (Note: Contact us on this issue)
5. Income tax return or other official document sent to homestead address 
6. Florida vehicle tags 
7. Other relevant evidence (Note: Contact us on this issue. The term 'Relevant evidence' may be a legal quagmire)

The giving of false information for the purpose of claiming the property tax exemption is a misdemeanor of the first degree. Fla.Stat.Ann. § 196.131(2). FHS will also deny services and we will also file a complaint against you if you attempt to defraud the property appraiser!

Regarding domicile, "A person's domicile is that place where he has his true, fixed and permanent home and principal establishment, and to which he has the intention of returning whenever he is absent therefrom." No one factor, not even place of voting registration, or a declaration of domicile or residence made for official purposes, is controlling. While statements of intention carry considerable weight, they will not prevail over contrary facts evidencing actual intent. Among the influential factors are the place where civil and political rights are exercised, taxes paid, real and personal property (such as furniture and automobiles) located, driver's and other licenses obtained, bank accounts maintained, location of club and church membership and places of business and employment. Husak v. Rasman, 1989 WL 13688 (E.D.Pa.)

The deadline for homestead application is March 1, to have it apply for that year. As stated above, you must own and live in the house as of January 1, to qualify. You may prequalify for homestead year-round for the following year. Once homestead is granted, it is usually  automatically renewed. Social Security numbers must be furnished on new homestead applications for them to be deemed complete. This information is safeguarded as CONFIDENTIAL.

The requirements for a homestead exemption are:
• 1. As of January 1, the applicant must have legal or beneficial (equitable) title to real property recorded in the residence's County.
• 2. The applicant must be claiming the residence his/her primary residence as of January 1 of the tax year.
• 3. The applicant must be a legal resident of Florida and US citizen or be a holder of a Permanent Resident Card issued by INS.

At the time of application the applicant should have and may be required to produce any or all of the following:
• 1. Proof of Florida residency (i.e. Driver license) A "Valid in Florida" designation on your Florida driver license is not acceptable. A Florida Identification Card with an out of state driver license is not acceptable. Also, a Declaration of Domicile will suffice.
• 2. Proof of Citizenship (i.e. voter registration or permanent resident card)
• 3. Address of property or tax bill or deed/title.
• 4. Social Security numbers for your spouse and any owner who resides on the property. (Required per FL Stat 196.011(11)
• 5. If you have a mobile home, your will need your title or registration to the mobile home and the deed to the real estate.
• 6. If the real estate is in a trust, you will need to provide us evidence of from the Trust which provides that you have the necessary ownership interest to qualify for homestead exemption. (see sample verbiage or Fl Stat. 196.014(2)) 

The deadline to apply for homestead exemption is March 1. Applications may be filed after March 1 through a late filed application appeal process. Applications can be submitted for the coming year after March 2. 

Other Important Facts:
Florida Statute 196.011(9) (a) requires the owner to notify the Property Appraiser whenever the use of the property or the status or condition of the owner changes so as to change the exempt status of the property.
Florida Statute 196.031(6) does not permit a property owner or legally or naturally dependent of the owner to avail themselves of a tax exemption in Florida and another in any other state.
Florida Administrative Code 12D-7.007
A person in this country under a temporary visa (H-1B) cannot meet the requirement of permanent residence or home and therefore cannot claim homestead exemption.
A married woman and her husband may establish separate permanent residences without showing "impelling reasons" or "just ground" for doing so. If it is determined by the property appraiser that separate residences and separate "family units" have been established by the husband and wife, and they are otherwise qualified, each may be granted homestead exemption from ad Valorem taxation under Article VII, Section 6 1968 State Constitution.

For the required statutory wording required to demonstrate ownership interest when property is in a trust, contact us.

What you need to file for Homestead Tax Exemption  

The filing period for Homestead Exemption is: March 2, of the current year through March 1, of the following year . There is no cost to file for Homestead if you file by the March 1 deadline. You may currently pre-file for the existing year until March 1st, or you must file a "Good Cause" Petition and an application to late file for the previous year.

When filing an application you may have to produce the following items listed herein. See further down on this page (Florida Statute 196.015 -- Permanent residency; factual determination by property appraiser) for more information. To claim the Homestead tax Exemption, all owners occupying the property as Tenants in Common (i.e., proportional share co-owners) must file in person on jointly held property. In the case of a husband/wife ("Tenants by the Entirety") or "Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship", and one owner may qualify for 100% coverage, although it is always highly advisable to have all eligible owner-occupants to file. If you are married and the Deed has different last names for husband and wife, a marriage certificate must be presented if the deed does not indicate the two co-owners are "husband and wife."  

Proof of Ownership: Recorded Warranty Deed, Co-op Propriety Lease, Notice of Proposed Taxes or Tax Receipt, if in your names. A deed must be presented if the property is jointly owned. IF THE PROPERTY IS HELD IN A TRUST, THE PROPERTY APPRAISER WILL POSSIBLY NEED A COMPLETE COPY OF THE TRUST AGREEMENT. The Deed and Trust must have specific wording required by law. Contact us for this required wording.

Proof of Permanent Florida Residence preferably dated prior to January 1 of the tax year for which you are filing, established in the form of:

A Declaration of Domicile (Contact us for this form)

Florida Voter's Registration or Recorded Declaration of Domicile (Contact us for this form)

Florida Driver's License or Florida I.D. Card. Note: "Valid Only in Florida " driver license is not acceptable.  

Non U.S. Citizens must bring proof of permanent residency, asylum/parolee status (or other "PRUCOL" status), and Recorded Declaration of Domicile.

If you have a Homestead Exemption in any other state or county (or an equivalent exemption, such as New York 's "S.T.A.R." exemption) on another property you also currently own, you will not be eligible for a homestead until you surrender the exemption in that other jurisdiction.

The State-approved application form requests certain information for all owners living on the premises and filing:

Current employers of all owners

Addresses listed on last IRS income tax returns.

Date of each owner's permanent Florida residence.

Date of occupancy for each property owner.

Social security numbers of all owners filing are required.

Other Exemptions  

Widows, widowers, permanently disabled persons, and qualified senior citizens on fixed-incomes are entitled to additional tax-saving exemptions:

$500 Disability Exemption: One letter from a Florida doctor stating that you are totally and permanently disabled.

$500 Widows/Widower's Exemption: Spouse's death certificate, newspaper clipping or memorial card.

Additional $25,000 Senior Citizen Exemption: Filing period is January 1 through March 1 of each year. Applicant must be 65 years of age or older as of January 1 and total household adjusted gross income must not exceed $22,693 (adjusted annually for inflation by the Department of Revenue). This exemption must be applied for annually.

$5,000 Veteran's Disability Exemption: A copy of your Certificate of Disability from the U.S. Government or the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (or its predecessor agency). The disability must be military service-related and incurred during a period of wartime service or by misfortune. The service-related disability must be to a degree of at least 10% before January 1, of the current year.

$5,000 Veteran's Service-Connected Total and Permanent Disability Exemption: A certificate from the US Government or US Department of Veterans Affairs. Any honorably discharged veteran with a service-connected total and permanent disability, surviving spouses of qualifying veterans and spouses of Florida resident veterans who died from service-connected causes while on active duty as a member of the US Armed forces are entitled to an exemption on real estate used and owned as a homestead.

$500 Disability Exemption for Blind Persons: A certificate from the Division of Blind Services of the Department of Education or the United States Department of Veterans Affairs certifying the applicant to be blind is required.

Full Exemption for Totally and Permanently Disabled Persons: A certificate from two licensed doctors of this state or a certificate from the US Department of Veterans Affairs. To be entitled to this exemption, you must be a (1) quadriplegic or (2) paraplegic, hemiplegic or other totally and permanently disabled person who must use a wheelchair for mobility or who is legally blind. For persons entitled to this exemption under number two (2) above, the prior year (2004) gross income of all persons residing in or upon the homestead shall not exceed $22,121. This amount is adjusted annually and a statement of gross income must accompany the application.

"Granny Flat" Exemption - Taxpayers who build additions onto an existing home or perform extensive renovations to provide living quarters for a parent or grandparent may be entitled to a special exemption equal to the amount of the new construction (up to 20% of the homestead value). To be eligible, the property owner must have a Homestead Exemption on the property where the parent or grandparent quarters are constructed. The construction or reconstruction must be properly permitted and comply with all local land development regulations. Copies of all permits, certificate of occupancy, and plans must be submitted to the Property Appraiser’s Office. Construction or reconstruction must be substantially complete after January 7, 2003 and before January 1st of the year in which the reduction is requested. Application must be filed with the Property Appraiser’s Office annually on or before March 1st of each year. The occupant(s) of the quarters must be a parent or grandparent. The occupant(s) must be at least 62 years of age by January 1st of the year in which the reduction is requested. The occupant(s) must permanently reside on the property on or before January 1st. of the year in which the reduction is requested. The occupant(s) cannot receive any benefits requiring a declaration of permanent residency on any other property in any other County or State.

Historic Property Exemption - Is your property on the National or Florida Registers of Historic Properties? Then, under certain circumstance, you may be entitled to some special exemptions related to your assessed value. Contact us for the application form.

Homestead Exemptions are not transferable

Homestead Exemption does not transfer from property to property. If you had the exemption last year on another property and moved, you must file a new application for your new residence in addition to a Portability Application. Notify the Property Appraiser to cancel the exemptions on your former home. Property purchased during last year may show qualified exemptions of the seller. The sellers' exemptions will not carry over to this year for a new buyer. The Buyer must apply for the new exemption!

You Must Make a Timely First Application

You can usually file for Homestead Exemption all year around. There are two filing periods.

"Pre-Filing" for the next year (for owners who purchased properties after January 1 of this year): March 2 to December 31.

"Traditional" or Initial Filing Period: January 1 to March 1.

The amount of the homestead exemption granted to an owner residing on a particular property is to be applied against the amount of that person's interest in the property. This provision is limited in that the proportional amount of the homestead exemption allowed any person shall not exceed the proportionate assessed valuation based on the interest owned by the person. For example, assuming a property valued at $40,000, with the residing owner's interest in the property being $20,000, then $20,000 of the homestead exemption is all that can be applied to that property. If there are multiple owners, all as joint tenants with rights of survivorship, the owner living at property filing receives the full $25,000 exemption.

Late Filing for Homestead ( If you missed the March 1 deadline)


Don't worry ... because Florida law allows for late filing for the current Tax Year until September 18th, of the current year. The county property appraiser's office accepts late Homestead applications and helps taxpayers prepare the mandatory petitions to the County Value Adjustment Board (VAB) for all eligible properties. To claim a current Homestead, you must have purchased, be named on the title, and moved onto the property on or before January 1st, and meet certain other residency qualifications of having a Florida driver's license/ID card or a voter card (or recorded Declaration of Domicile) showing the address.

Applications with Petition - Most county property appraiser's offices accept late Homestead applications. They also help taxpayers prepare the petitions to the County Value Adjustment Board (VAB) for all property purchased prior to January 1 and owned and occupied by qualified applicants. For a late application to be granted for the current year, you must file a petition with the VAB accompanied by a non-refundable filing fee and qualify for the exemption. If the application is filed after the September TRIM Notice deadline, and you request a "good cause" hearing with the Value Adjustment Board on or before December 31st, the Value Adjustment Board will hold a hearing to determine if it will hear your petition. 

You must show "good cause" why your petition was not filed by the September deadline. Good cause may very well be determined by "which side of the bed" the VAB woke up on that day! Remember, the property tax revenues are huge sources of income for the county, and automatic denial is almost guaranteed. The term "Good Cause" is ambiguous at best, but the term generally means a substantial reason amounting in law to a legal excuse for failing to perform an act required by law, coupled with legally sufficient grounds or another really good reason. Good cause also depends on the circumstances of each individual case and that finding of existence of good cause for failure to comply with the law lies in the discretion of the Value Adjustment Board officer (VAB) to which the decision is committed. It is a relative and highly abstract term.

If granted "Good Cause," you must file a petition and pay the mandated non-refundable filing fee to the VAB; and be heard by a Special Master for approval or denial. If denied "Good Cause" by the VAB, you are still entitled by law to appeal to the Circuit Court, pursuant to Sec. 194.171, Fla. Stat. That is going to be basically a lawsuit, and cost thousands of dollars in lawyers fees, retainer fees for lawyers, $250 to $500 per hour and court costs, not to mention loss of the homestead tax exemption and up to triple the amount of your property taxes.

Receipts, Renewals, and Changes that Cause Ineligibility

After your initial application for the Homestead Exemption has been made and the exemption has been granted, a receipt will be mailed to you each January 1st for verification that the status and condition of the ownership has not changed in any manner whatsoever.

If you do not receive a renewal receipt from the property appraiser by March 1, failure to contact their office could result in the loss of your Homestead Exemption for the year. A new application is required if your property has been sold or otherwise disposed of, or the ownership changes in any manner or when the holder(s) of the Homestead Exemption ceases to reside on the property as a permanent resident. This annual Homestead Receipt renewal does not pertain to any of the other exemptions and/or classifications.  

If you no longer qualify: The law requires you to notify the Property Appraiser's office to remove that exemption by March 1. Strong penalties -- going back as far as ten years of assessed back taxes (the dreaded ten year 'claw back'), plus penalties and interest -- may be imposed on those who do not tell the Property Appraiser to remove exemptions for which they are no longer qualified. The problem becomes this; there is no remedy or statutory regulation that allows you to challenge a ten year claw back! The courts do not have jurisdiction to entertain a suit for determination of the exemption. For example, if you have rented out your entire property or a substantial portion thereof (under most of the circumstances we've investigated), you would likely forfeit your right to claim a Homestead Exemption. Or, if you were receiving a widow's or widower's exemption and remarry, you would no longer be entitled to that exemption.  




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