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February 20, 2008

Some Homestead Holders and Mobile Home Owners Must Take Action to Receive Benefits of Constitutional Amendment


Homestead Owners Who Moved in 2007 Should Apply for Portability by March 1, 2008

TALLAHASSEE—March 1 is the long-established annual deadline for filing for homestead exemption.  Anyone who has established a new permanent residence in Florida by January 1, 2008 has through March 1, 2008 to apply to their county property appraiser for the homestead exemption for 2008.  This is true for Floridians who move from one home to another, as well as for people who move here from out-of-state. 

There's an important additional requirement this year, however, for some 2007 Florida homestead exemption holders who established a new homestead by January 1, 2008.

On January 29, 2008, Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment that makes some or all of the Save Our Homes benefit portable.  Portability allows homestead exemption holders to transfer some or all of their Save Our Homes benefit from their old home to their new home. 

The first year that homeowners can take advantage of this benefit is 2008.  If you had a Florida homestead exemption in 2007, and gave up the exemption and moved to a new homestead by January 1, 2008, you are eligible for portability.  To receive the benefit, you must apply for both the homestead exemption and the transfer of the Save Our Homes benefit by March 1, 2008. 

After the amendment passed, the application for Save Our Homes transfer became part of the homestead exemption application.  But applications submitted before the amendment passed did not include a request for portability.  So, if you are eligible for portability in 2008 and applied for the 2008 homestead exemption before the passage of the constitutional amendment, you must submit a separate application for portability to your property appraiser.

Homeowners who are not sure whether they need to make a separate application for portability should contact their county property appraiser.  In Florida, property tax is a local tax, and county property appraisers administer the homestead exemption and its benefits.  For a list of county property appraisers and contact information go to the Department of Revenue’s website at http://dor.myflorida.com/dor/property/appraisers.html.

The Save Our Homes benefit is the difference between the market value of a homestead property and the assessed value (the value you pay taxes on, after subtracting any exemptions).  Depending on the market value of the old and new homes, and the number of owners of the old home moving to the new home, some or all of the benefit can be transferred, up to a maximum of $500,000. 

If the new home's market value is the same or greater than the old home's market value, the homeowner may be able to transfer the entire difference to the new home.  If the new home's market value is less than the old home's market value, the homeowner may be able to transfer a percentage of the Save Our Homes benefit, so that the assessed value is the same percentage of market value for the new home, as it was for the old home.  In some cases, the amount a person can transfer is limited to his or her share of the old homestead's assessment limitation difference, based on the number of owners.  See your local property appraiser for details on how to determine your transfer amount.

Homestead Owners Who Move after January 1, 2008 Have through March 1, 2009 to Apply for Portability

Homestead owners who establish a new homestead during 2008, after January 1, 2008, are not eligible for a new homestead exemption until 2009, and will have through March 1, 2009, to apply for their new exemption and the transfer of their Save Our Homes benefit.

New $25,000 Tangible Personal Property Tax Benefit Applies to Some Mobile Home Owners Who Don't Receive the Homestead Exemption – Must Submit Tax Return by April 1 Each Year

Although the new $25,000 exemption for tangible personal property tax applies mostly to property owned by businesses, some owners of mobile homes that are not classified as real property may also benefit.  If a mobile home is required to have a motor vehicle license plate, the owner is eligible for the new exemption on any additions to the home that are classified as tangible personal property. 

This exemption does not apply to mobile homes that are assessed as real property.  Generally, if you own both your home and the land it is located on, your property is assessed as real property, and you would not be eligible for the tangible personal property tax exemption.  (If your mobile home is real property that you have a homestead exemption on, you receive the $25,000 homestead exemption and will also receive the new additional $25,000 exemption on non-school property taxes.)

To receive this $25,000 exemption for 2008, the owner of an eligible mobile home with additions must submit a tangible personal property tax return to the property appraiser by April 1, 2008.  Even if you have not been required to complete this tax return in the past, you must submit it to receive the exemption.  The exemption does not apply to the mobile home itself, but only to additions that are considered tangible personal property (such as a Florida room or garage, when added to an eligible mobile home).

No Further Action Required to Receive $25,000 Additional Exemption on Homestead Property

The property tax amendment also created an additional $25,000 homestead exemption on the assessed value of a homestead property over $50,000.  This exemption does not apply to the taxes levied by school districts.  Property appraisers will automatically apply the additional exemption to the assessments of all Florida homestead holders.  Property owners currently receiving the homestead exemption for 2008 do not have to take any further action.

For further information, contact your local property appraiser.