Florida Homestead Exemption

A Florida Homestead Exemption can save you a great deal of money in terms of property taxes.
Successful applications attract a typical $25,000 cushion to add to further relief of a similar amount. This brings the total amount of relief to a tax exemption of up to $50,000.

As you can imagine, this can be awfully beneficial when it comes to paying taxes and fees on your inheritance.

Do You Qualify for the Florida Homestead Exemption?

Before we dive deeper into this topic, I want to share a few common scenarios pertaining to the Florida Homestead Exemption. This will show you a few surprising scenarios that qualify. Further, it will show you how damaging the probate courts can be if you don’t have a knowledgable attorney on your side.

The Backstory

The Florida Constitution provides for Homestead protection if the person in question claims an inherited property as their principal residence.

The original purpose of this Homestead exemption in Florida was to protect the spouse of someone who, for example, acquires debt through gambling. In the case of a relative’s untimely death, a creditor cannot legally force the sale of the property to pay the debts incurred by the deceased. The only caveat is that the property must be the primary “home” of someone who is still living.

You will not lose your homestead exemption or “Save Our Homes” assessment limitation if:

You put a home in a life estate with a remainder to your children.

Both your Homestead Exemption and the home’s “Save Our Homes” value will remain intact if you transfer future interest to your children.

Further, when you die any exemptions will expire and the property will be reassessed the following year.

Your heirs will need to reapply for a new homestead exemption at that time, but they will not lose the home if it is their primary residence.

You put a primary residence in a trust.

After placing the property in a trust, use and occupancy of the property are still yours under the terms of the trust.

However, once your property is in a trust fund, you’ll need to submit this information to the Property Appraiser’s Office. This can be done with a copy of the trust to ensure you remain in good standing to receive the benefits of a Homestead Exemption.

You give title to your spouse.

If the title is transferred between you and your spouse, or even if it transfers to a surviving spouse, both of you will remain Homestead Exempt and any existing Save Our Homes value remains.

You add someone to the title on the property.

As long as you remain on title, the person who is added to the title must not apply for a Homestead Exemption. In this case, both of you will maintain the existing Homestead Exemption and any Save Our Homes value.


What is a Florida Homestead Exemption?

Homestead property refers to homes and adjoining land in Florida where a family resides.

The Homestead exemption protects up to 160 acres outside a municipality, and 1/2 an acre within a municipality.

These laws support that maintaining the homestead of a living family is more important than the payment of a deceased person’s debts. Thus, under the Constitution of the state of Florida, every homeowner is eligible for a homestead exemption of up to $50,000.

The first $25,000 of the property value is exempt from any and all property taxes, including school district taxes.

In other words, this means that you can transfer property to heirs and beneficiaries, even if you have unpaid debts at your time of death. Further, they should receive a homestead exemption for those debts if they live in the home in question at the time of your death.

This brings us to the topic of this discussion: do you qualify for the Florida homestead exemption? Well, you can find out below.

1) When did you move to Florida?

If you recently moved into a Florida home by the first day of the year in question, you meet the occupancy requirements for this tax exemption.

However, if you switched counties on a later date, you are ineligible for a homestead relief for that year. For example, let’s say you made a move on January 5th of 2019, you cannot claim the 2019 exemption. Instead, you can do so for the following year, i.e. 2020.

2) Is the house in question your principal residence?

Permanent residence falls among one of the more critical preliminaries for this exemption.

Rental properties and vacation homes are consequently ruled out of the consideration for a homestead exemption. Further, you’ll need to prove to the courts that your family lived in the home during that calendar year. You’ll also need to prove your residence on the date of the homeowner’s death.

What’s more, you must also have proof of permanent residence.

Evidence can come in the form of a Florida driver’s license. You can also show tax returns as a resident of the county, or a pattern of voting within the state. You are automatically ineligible if you are already receiving another state’s residency-based exemption. Additionally, you won’t qualify if you move into the home after the homeowner dies.

3) What kind of title do you have?

Beneficial or legal property titles are both in the clear for a homestead exemption.

The former is acceptable in the case that you are living in a property, courtesy of a trust where you also have beneficial rights.

However, if those rights belong to a corporation, you become ineligible. Additionally, for the beneficial title case, the benefit specifically covers the rented or in-use portion of the property and not the property in its entirety.

4) Are you a non-citizen?

Permanent residents and US citizens typically qualify, but there is one condition to fulfill for non-citizens.

A child born on US soil, or inside of US territories, gains citizenship through birth. If that child is considered dependent on a non-citizen, the non-citizen may be able to take advantage of this. In this case, they can even secure a homestead exemption in the event of the dependent’s death. More specifically, if there are other dependents living in the homestead at the time.

For that to happen, though, you must provide birth certificates. You should also prove that the homestead is and has been the primary residence for the child in question.

5) Have you done anything that’ll result in a disqualification?

You might be wondering what constitutes homestead tax emption disqualification in Florida?

Two consecutive years of renting out your home for more than 30 days each year will nullify your application. This means that if you are renting out your property on Airbnb, or the like, you should not rent it out for more than 30 days at a time to qualify.

Additionally, registering your vehicle outside the state of Florida will also disqualify you from the Florida Homestead Exemption.

The same goes for registering to vote in another state or acquiring a driver’s license in another state.

If you meet these requirements and think your situation is eligible for a homestead exemption, then you’ll need to head to the county appraiser’s office.

It is also worth noting that members of the military and senior citizens can get bonus exemptions beyond the $50,000 mentioned above. So be sure to carry with you documented proof of that as well if it applies to your situation.

You’ll need to get in touch with the county office once you have all the relevant documents in place. Then contact a probate attorney, once you’ve qualified to make sure a homestead exemption is included in your Florida probate.