Reminder: File Your Homestead Exemption
Buying a home can be draining on anyone's resources, but the buck doesn't just stop once the closing paperwork has been signed. Every homeowner is still on the hook for property taxes, as well. And as much as we grumble about having to fork over the dough, property taxes are actually needed to generate revenue for the local government. In turn, the government takes this revenue and use it to fund public services, like schools, local police forces, paramedics and firefighters, repairing roads and infrastructure, and even things like parks and public libraries.
Property taxes are a levy issued by the local municipality or government on a land owner's real or personal property, which includes land, buildings, and other permanent features that may add value to property. The value of this property is assessed, usually by the local tax collector. This assessed value is then multiplied by the current tax rate to determine how much the levy will be.
However, there is a great tool that many homeowners can use to save themselves money on their annual property taxes, and that is the homestead exemption. A homestead exemption decreases a property's taxable value by up to $50,000 in the state of Florida. This exemption was first introduced to Florida in the early 1930s as a way to help struggling homeowners pay their property taxes following the Great Depression; the program has expanded to include additional exemptions for seniors, the disabled, and veterans.
If you have not already applied for your homestead exemption, you can still do so, but you should hurry. The deadline for the application is March 1st! To be eligible for a homestead exemption, you must:
- Be an individual, family unit (married couple), or trust (NOT a business or corporation). If your property is held in a trust, you must see your attorney for the specific verbiage necessary.
- Make the property your primary and permanent residence by January 1st of the year for which you are filing the exemption
To save yourself some time when you go to apply, here’s a list of the required documents and other items Hernando County requires when you file for a homestead exemption.
It should be noted that rental properties are not generally eligible for a homestead exemption. However, there is a provision in the law that will allow you to rent out your home after January 1st and keep your homestead exemption, provided that you do not rent it out for more than 30 days per calendar year for two consecutive years.
Click here for more information on Florida homestead exemptions, including handy PDF guides that you can download or print.
Some counties require you to apply for your exemption in person, but many more are encouraging online and mail application due to COVID-19. If you live in Hernando County, you can apply online, by mail, or in person at the Property Appraiser's office. Forms are available for download on the property appraiser website.
Check out the links below to find out how to apply for an exemption in other Florida counties in the Tampa Bay area:
Don't forget, the deadline for submission is March 1st!