What is a homestead exemption?

This can be described as a property tax exemption for your permanent primary residence.  

A homestead exemption permits a property owner to exempt a fraction of the value of their home from property tax assessments, it reduces your escrow payment and your overall payment.

A homestead exemption is tied to a specific property, which is the property of the owner. It came about because senior citizens on tight incomes had difficulties paying the property tax. As a matter of fact, in some locations, a homestead exemption completely eliminates taxes for senior citizens.

However, the homestead exemption does not prevent a bank foreclosure if a property owner defaults on their mortgage.

Requirements to be met in order to qualify for the Florida homestead exemption 

  1. You must own and be resident in the property on January 1 of the current year to be eligible to file for the current year.
  2. The property must be your permanent residence “to the exclusion of others”.
  3. The deadline for filing is on March 1 of the current year, so you must have applied by March 1 in order to qualify.

Documents required for Florida homestead exemption application

To apply for the Florida homestead exemption you must note that there are a few conditions that must be met before the submission of the documents required.

  • Only the persons listed on the application as residing owners with proof of their Florida residency will benefit from the homestead exemption if their application is granted
  • Vacation homes, rental properties, and investment properties do not qualify.
  • Non-citizens must submit an alien registration card in order to qualify 
  • You have to live in the property six months and one day per year to qualify.

Documents required:

  1. Proof of January 1st Ownership
  2. Proof of Florida residency – it can include one of the following and must be issued prior to January 1. 
    • A valid Florida license or ID card
    • Florida vehicle registration 
    • Florida voters registration
    • Prior year’s IRS return or current W-2 form
    • Bank statements and checking account registered at the property
    • Proof of payments for utilities at the property

How to file for Florida homestead exemption 

  1. In person – visit one of the service centers
  2. Online – Complete the online Exemption filling application and make sure to select the state’s e-file option
  3. Mail – Mail the completed application  along with supporting documentation to the property Appraiser’s office       

Once you have received the Homestead Exemption, you do not have to re-apply because your Florida homestead exemption automatically renews every year as long as your residency status and the property title stay the same. However, the homeowner has a responsibility under the law to notify the Property Appraiser if there is a change of ownership or property title.