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  • Writer's pictureSandra Wallace

Homestead Protection: More than just a discount

If you bought a new home in 2020, it is time to file for your homestead exemption. The State of Florida offers an exemption for up to $50,000.00 off the appraised value of your primary residence. You must file an application with your county Property Appraiser's office by March 1st to receive the exemption for that tax year.

You may have heard about the homestead exemption but still have questions. Your property is appraised each year by the County’s Property Appraiser to determine its taxable value. These values are then used by the County’s Tax Collector to determine the amount of tax owed for each item allowed to be billed on the Property Taxes. The state of Florida provides a $25,000.00 exemption to the first $50,000.00 of your property value and an additional $25,000.00 if your property is assessed at a value higher than $50,000.00.

This means that if your property is valued at $200,000.00 and it is your primary residence, or homestead, you would be taxed based on a value of $150,000.00. You have to apply for this exemption for it to apply. For Palm Beach County, the application can be completed online at then select the E-file option.

You only need to apply once during your time of ownership. You must let the Property Appraiser’s office know if you move and the property is no longer your primary residence. Failure to do this could result in a homestead tax lien with a substantial penalty and interest due.

You must reside in the property as of January 1st of the year you are applying for the exemption. If you purchase the property in February of 2020, the first year you would qualify for the homestead exemption would be 2021, assuming it is still your primary residence on January 1, 2021. The homestead application is due by March 1st of the tax year you are seeking the exemption. In the example I just gave, the application would be due by March 1, 2021.

You will need to provide the following documents, showing the property address, for all property owners applying for the exemption:

  • Florida Driver’s License or Identification Card

  • Florida vehicle registration

  • Florida Voter’s ID (if you are a qualified voter)

  • Immigration documents if you are not a U.S. Citizen

Once you get the homestead exemption, you also qualify for a 3% cap on assessments, and Portability, which allows you to transfer some homestead protection to a new homestead property elsewhere in the county or state.

If you prefer, you can also fill out the application online and mail it or drop it off to the Property Appraiser’s office, as long as they receive it by March 1st. You can also visit one of the Property Appraiser’s service centers in person. You may need to make an appointment to apply in person.

You can rent your homestead for 30 days or less per calendar year and still maintain your homestead status but renting your property for more than 30 days for two consecutive years or for more than six months constitutes an abandonment of your homestead and you may be subject to a lien, penalties and interest.

Regardless of whether you obtain the tax exemption, your primary residence is your homestead and offers you other protections as well, such as freedom from levy and execution by creditors, which is a fancy way to say you can't be forced to sell your homestead to settle a debt. If you are married, your spouse also has an interest in half of the homestead property, regardless of whether they are listed on the Deed. This is why your spouse will need to sign off on any Deed or Mortgage to sell or obtain a loan on your homestead property.

If you have questions about any of the aspects of homestead protections, contact me and I will be happy to assist you.

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