The ABC's of Florida Homestead Exemption and Save Our Homes

Posted by Mary Ray on Monday, November 30th, 2009 at 11:40am.

If you've recently purchased a home in Cape Coral or Southwest Florida and are still in the process of familiarizing yourself with the ins and outs of home ownership, here are some vital tips that you'll need to be aware of in order to take advantage of what is available to you.

Florida has two wonderful programs that can greatly benefit a homeowner, just as long as you are aware of them, their deadlines for applying, and make sure you have all of your qualifications and paperwork in order.

Florida Homestead Exemption

The state of Florida allows up to $50,000 homestead exemption to be deducted from the assessed value of the home for qualified owners.  Applicants who qualify must file by March 1st and have been residing in their home from January 1st of the filing year. Qualifications include the following:

If you are applying for Florida homestead exemption, you must have a valid Florida Driver’s License and a Florida vehicle license plate. If you own multiple vehicles, at least one vehicle must be registered in Florida.

You'll also need to provide proof of United States citizenship, your Social Security Number and your Lee County Voter's Registration Number. If you are a non-voter, you will be required to complete a Declaration of Domicile. If you are not a United States citizen, you may still be able to take advantage of the homestead exemption by providing a valid Permanent Resident Alien Card. Temporary visas and work visas do not qualify.

Proof of home ownership by presenting a copy of your Lee County tax bill or recorded Deed is also required.  In order to qualify for the exemption, your Lee County Florida home must also be your primary residence.

What Else?

If you qualify for the standard homestead exemption, you also automatically qualify for the additional homestead exemption and the "Save Our Homes" limitation.

Save Our Homes is a constitutional benefit approved by the state of Florida in 1992. This benefit places a 3 percent tax increase limitation on annual assessments for properties that have been granted Homestead Exemption. The way it works is pretty straightforward. The initial year's assessed value becomes the base value for the 3 percent increase limitation. The following year, the assessed value cannot rise more than 3 percent of the Consumer Price Index. Exceptions include portions of the property that are rented, new additions or construction, as well as any items that have been overlooked or escaped taxation in error over the past years.

If and when you sell your property, the assessed value returns to fair market value for the year following the sale and that becomes the base price for the new homestead applicant, should they qualify.  Save Our Homes base values cannot be transferred from one homeowner to the next.

What is Portability?

Although the Save Our Homes values or the Homestead exemption cannot be transferred between owners, you can take it with you from one home to the next.

If you have already qualified for the Homestead Exemption in the state of Florida and are relocating to a new Florida home, be sure to take your benefits with you.

The Florida Homestead Exemption "Save Our Homes" benefit is now portable due to an amendment that was approved in 2008.

How does Portability Work?

Because of the new amendment, you can now transfer some or all of your previous home's Save Our Home benefits to your new property in an amount up to $500,000. Certain rules apply, so it doesn't automatically mean that the entire differential of your previous home will transfer over, but it might. In order to get what is coming to you, simply complete a Transfer of Homestead Assessment Difference form and submit it between January 1st and March 1st in order to take advantage of the transfer.  

You can read more about Florida Homestead Exemption Information and the Save Our Homes program at the Lee County Property Appraiser's Website.

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By David Sporleder | Sporleder-Ray Realty Group || Google+


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