Property Tax Breaks

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There are various ways for you to save some money on your property taxes if you’re a Florida resident. These all require that you file with the county property appraiser’s office by the end of February. To qualify, you must occupy the property as your primary residence by Jan 1st of that year.

Homestead Exemption

If the property you have purchased is your primary residence and you occupy it by Jan 1, you will need to take your deed and ID to the closest property appraiser’s office along with evidence of residency and qualifications.

In Pinellas County, the homestead exemption reduces most people’s taxes by about $700 per year. However, an even more important feature is how it keeps your taxes down in the future.

Save Our Homes Assessed Value Cap

One of the best features of having a homestead exemption is that the value used by the property appraiser’s office for determining taxes can only increase 3% per year once the property is homesteaded. This is due to a law passed years ago known as the Save Our Homes amendment. So filing for homestead exemption not only reduces your taxes by about $700 a year, it also keeps the increase in taxes to a manageable level as long as you own your home/condo/townhouse and it remains homesteaded.

If the property you own here is not a homesteaded property, you will not get the homestead exemption or the Save Our Homes cap. However, the Florida legislature did pass a law which went into effect in 2009 that puts a cap on non-homesteaded properties where the increase in value for tax purposes will not go up more than 10% per year for as long as you own the property and don’t make certain changes to it.

Portability – Your Tax Breaks Can Move When You Do

This one is a little more complicated but worth understanding. If you have a homesteaded property in Florida and plan to sell and buy another one (to upsize, downsize or relocate) you may be eligible to transfer up to $500,000 of accumulated Save Our Home Savings.

I’ll try to make the explanation as simple as possible and will put links below to help you with this.

If you own a home that has a market value of $250,000 but the assessed value for taxes are only $150,000 due to the Save Our Homes cap, you have an accumulated $100,000 savings. To encourage homesteaded property owners in Florida to purchase to move to another homesteaded property in Florida, the portability amendment passed by voters in 2008 affecting the homestead laws allow you to transfer all or a portion of your accumulated savings.

There are some limitations on how much you can transfer especially when you downsize, but it still results in a pretty good savings on your property taxes.

To understand this better you can see the Questions and Answers page or use the online Portability Calculator with different sets of numbers to see how it works when you upsize, downsize or just relocate.

For more info on the Homestead Exemption, Save Our Homes cap and additional exemptions that are available, visit the Pinellas County Property Appraiser’s website and go to the Exemptions section in the menu on the left side of the page. You can also do a search here to see what the market value and assessed value of your property is to see what numbers you should put in the Portability Calculator (use the Search Our Database in the menu on the left side of the page and search by your address or name to pull up the record then click the link to see all the info).

Additional information on the 10% cap for non-homesteaded properties can be obtained on this Questions and Answers page.

I can’t give you advice on taxes but if you have an questions about what I’ve written about above, please email me or call me and I’ll do my best to answer any questions I can.

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