One of the first things you should do after buying a new home in Florida is to file for homestead exemption. Depending on which Florida county your home is in you can potentially save several hundred to more than $1,000 dollars.
You have to make application for the exemption between January 1 of the previous year and March 1 of the year you want the exemption.
For example, for the 2014 tax year, you would have been able to apply for homestead exemption from January 1, 2013 to March 1, 2014.
If you closed on your home and moved in after January 1, 2014 you won’t be able to get the exemption for the 2014 tax year, but you can go ahead and file for the 2015 exemption.
March 1 is now just a few days away, so if you haven’t done this yet, you should do so as soon as possible.
How to Apply
When filing for your homestead exemption for the first time, you will need to provide evidence that you are a legal resident.
This can be in the form of a voter registration card, vehicle tag number, current employer’s address or a Florida driver’s license.
The great thing is that most Florida counties have automatic renewal programs so there is no need to reapply each year as long as you are living in the same home. But if you move, you will need to reapply.
Unfortunately, if you are a part-time resident using your home in Florida as a vacation home or second home, you will not be eligible to apply for this exemption.
How Much Can I Save?
The basic homestead exemption results in a $25,000 reduction of your home’s assessed value.
In most Florida counties that will save you hundreds of dollars.
But if your home is worth more than $75,000 (hey, that’s most of us right?) you qualify for an extra $25,000 deduction.
The only catch is that this extra $25k does not apply to the school tax part of your property taxes.
So with $50,000 in deductions, Floridians in some of the counties with higher tax rates will save more than $1,000.
Bottom line is that this is nothing to sneeze at, so make sure you take advantage of this.
There are other exemptions you may qualify for too, so read the homestead exemption application form carefully and select all that apply.
You can download the homestead exemption filing form here. (260 kb PDF)
Fill it out, then take it to your local property appraisers office before March 1 to get it filed.