It’s Time to File or Renew Your Florida Homestead Exemption

It’s Time to File or Renew Your Florida Homestead Exemption

It’s time to file or renew your Florida homestead exemption which takes place every year between January 1 and March 1. Once you have a homestead exemption you will receive a renewal notice every January. If there are no changes, no action is required. But if there are changes to your situation you must complete the form. According to the law, “you must cancel your exemption if any of the following apply”:
• The property is “rented”
• The property is “not your permanent residence
• You have “homestead exemption” in another state
• Your spouse has homestead exemption on another property
• You receive a permanent residency “benefit of tax credit in another state”
• The original applicant died

If portions of the property are rented or used for commercial purposes, you must notify the county about such conditions as they affect eligibility of the “Save Our Homes” benefit. (Ref. Section 196.011.F.S.). Permanent residence is determined by the address listed on your driver’s license, voter registration card, vehicle registration, etc. (Ref. Section 196.015, F.S.)

Improperly claiming a Florida homestead exemption results in tax liens up to 10 years taxes PLUS a 50% penalty, AND 15% interest.

You may want to have a discussion with your estate attorney as sections of the Florida homestead laws are complex and often misunderstood, particularly when there are minor children involved or someone wants to make their second home in Florida their primary, permanent residence. You want to have your attorney review all three sections in the homestead exemption with regard to your specific situation.
The three sections in the Florida homestead laws are: real estate taxes; creditor protection; death, descent and distribution.

Real Estate Taxes:
A Florida homestead is entitled to certain exemptions from real estate taxes (for a list of exemptions see: http://floridarevenue.com/dor/property/taxpayers/exemptions.html). Additionally, Florida’s “Save Our Homes” cap on assessments provides that the annual valuation of one’s homestead for property tax purposes can increase only by 1) 3% or 2) the percent increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the prior year – whichever is smaller.

Creditor Protection:
Florida law states that a sale of the homestead cannot be made to satisfy a judgment rendered against you. This protection also carries over to certain heirs who inherit your homestead (spouse, children, siblings, nieces, nephews). However any judgments specific to the property (foreclosures, past due association fees,. Contractor’s liens) override the homestead protection.

Death, Descent and Distribution:
The laws are complex in this area. Because this area is complex people may want to have their Estate Attorney review their documents. Examples of issues are: If the surviving spouse was not left the homestead outright, the spouse would receive a ‘life-estate’ in the homestead with the surviving children receiving equal shares after the death of the spouse. If a minor child is the heir they may want to discuss setting up an irrevocable trust.

Make sure you will have plans in place that ensures what you want to happen actually happens.