January 24

Homestead Exemption in Hillsborough County

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If you're looking to save big on your Tampa property taxes, then the homestead exemption, is a fantastic way to reduce your annual tax bill

In this guide, I'll walk you through everything you need to know about the homestead exemption.

We'll cover who qualifies, how to apply, and all the great benefits you can get from it.

Whether it's your first time applying or you're just renewing your exemption, these tips and step-by-step instructions will help you make the most of this awesome opportunity. 

So, let's dive in and see how the homestead exemption can help you and your family save some serious cash in Tampa!

What is the Homestead Exemption in Tampa?

So, what exactly is the homestead exemption?

Simply put, it's a legal provision that helps homeowners lower their taxable value of their primary home.

Homestead Exemptions Hillsborough County

In other words, it's about paying less in property taxes.

The homestead exemption is part of the Florida Constitution and is designed to make homeownership more affordable by providing significant tax savings.

Legal Basis

The homestead exemption is rooted in the Florida Constitution.

It’s specifically aimed at providing financial relief to homeowners by reducing the taxable value of their primary residence.

This exemption can knock off up to $50,000 from the assessed value of your home, which translates to lower property taxes.

In Hillsborough County, for example, property taxes can be a significant expense for homeowners.

Understanding how the homestead exemption fits into the broader context of property taxes here is crucial.

By taking advantage of this exemption, you may ease the financial burden and keep more money in your pockets.

The Hillsborough County Property Appraiser's office is responsible for managing this process, ensuring that homeowners get the benefits they’re entitled to.

Other property appraiser offices around the Tampa Bay area include:

Benefits of Homestead Exemption

Alright, now let’s get into the good stuff – the benefits of the homestead exemption. 

Tax Savings

Homestead Deductions Married

First and foremost, the homestead exemption offers significant tax savings.

In Florida, homeowners can get up to $50,000 (for married couples or $25,000 for single) knocked off the assessed value of your primary residence. 

Here’s how:

  • The first $25,000 of the exemption applies to all property taxes, including school district taxes.
  • The second $25,000 applies to the assessed value between $50,000 and $75,000 and excludes school district taxes.

For example, if your home is assessed at $100,000, the taxable value would drop to $50,000.

Protection Against Rising Property Values

As if the homestead exemption was not enough, Floridia homeowners have another added benefit - Save Our Homes (SOH) cap.

In 1992, an amendment to the Florida Constitution was passed, but took effect in 1995. 

This provision limits the annual increase in the assessed value of your homestead property to 3% or the change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), whichever is lower.

This means that even if property values in Tampa skyrocket, the increase in your home’s assessed value – and thus your property taxes – will be kept in check.

What is Portability?

Portability is a provision that allows homeowners to transfer their SOH benefit to a new primary residence in Florida.

Homeowners have two years from the sale of their previous home to apply for portability when purchasing a new primary residence.

If you apply and qualify for a homestead exemption in Florida, you may also be eligible for a Save Our Homes assessment limitation and portability transfer.

Portability benefit amount is the difference between the market/just value* and the assessed value of a home.

This image covers an example of how portability works including some of the limitations.

What is portability

Additional Benefits

The homestead exemption also offers extra savings for certain groups

  • $500 Disability Exemption – Every Florida resident who has a disability qualifies for this exemption, and proof of disability will be required at the first time of application.
  • $500 Widowed Persons Exemption – This exemption is available to widows and widowers who are permanent residents of Florida. The exemption is only valid for as long as the widowed individual doesn’t remarry and if they weren’t divorced before the death of their spouse. A death certificate may be required when applying for the first time.
  • $500 Exemption for Blind Persons – This exemption is available to every Florida resident who is blind. A certificate from the Division of Blind Services of the Department of Education or the United States Department of Veterans Affairs will be required from the applicant.
  • $5,000 Disabled Veteran – Ex-service members, who are permanent residents of Florida and are disabled at least 10% in war or by service-related misfortune, qualify for a $5,000 property tax exemption.
Other Homestead Exemptions

To view details and a complete list of other exemptions available to homeowners, please visit the personal exemption section of the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser site.

Are You Eligible For A Homestead Exemption?

Here's a list of requirements to ensure you qualify for the Hillsborough County homestead exemption:

1. Legal Title

First, you must have legal title to the property by January 1st of the year you’re applying. 

2. Primary Residence

The property must be your primary residence as of January 1st and establish Hillsborough County as your legal domicile.

Of course, you'll also need to be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

3. Proof of Florida Residency

Third, you must show proof of Florida residency.

The following documents will work:

  • Florida Driver License: The license must be valid in Florida. A designation of "Valid in Florida" on an out-of-state driver license or a Florida Identification Card with an out-of-state driver license won’t be acceptable.
  • Active Duty Military: If you’re on active duty, you may provide a Florida driver license or a Leave and Earnings Statement (LES).

4. Proof of Citizenship

Next, you'll need to provide proof of U.S. citizenship or permanent residency. Acceptable documents include:

  • Voter Registration Card
  • Permanent Resident Card

5. Property Information

Provide the address of the property, along with a tax bill or deed/title to prove ownership.

This helps establish that you own the property and reside there.

6. Social Security Numbers

Another requirement for the homestead application is having valid Social Security numbers for all owners residing on the property.

7. Trust Ownership

If the property is held by a trust, the beneficiary of the trust with the right to occupy the home, may also be entitled to the homestead exemption.

8. Filing Deadline

Finally, the statutory filing deadline is March 1st.

If March 1st falls on a weekend or legal holiday, the deadline extends to the next business day.

How To Apply for a Homestead Exemption in Hillsborough County?

FL homestead exemption eligibility

To get the exemption, you must first fill out an application and show proof of residence, as of January 1 of the year you wish to qualify.

Although, the application may be filed as late as March 1.

To apply for a homestead exemption in Tampa, follow these steps:

  • Visit the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser's website or office.
  • Complete the application form (DR-501)
  • Provide proof of ownership (deed, mortgage, or tax bill)
  • Provide proof of residency
  • Submit the completed application and supporting documents to the Property Appraiser's office

You can get the form online or from the Hillsborough County Property Appraisal office.

Again, here's a recap of the documents you might need:

  • A valid Florida driver's license or state ID
  • A valid Florida voter's ID
  • A Florida vehicle registration number
  • Declaration of domicile and residency in Florida
  • A bank statement and a mailing address for a checking account
  • Proof of payment of utility at the homestead address
  • Immigration documents if you're not a U.S. citizen

Common Questions About Homestead Exemptions

Here are some frequently asked questions about Florida's homestead exemption.

Q: Can I apply for homestead exemption after the March 1st deadline?

A: Generally, you need to apply by the March 1st deadline to receive the exemption for that tax year. However, if you miss the deadline, there may be some exceptions or late filing opportunities. It’s best to contact the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser’s office to see if you qualify for any late application options.

Q: How do I renew my homestead exemption?

A: Once you've been granted the homestead exemption, it automatically renews each year as long as you continue to meet the eligibility requirements.

However, if there are any changes in your status or residency, you need to notify the Property Appraiser’s office to ensure you remain in compliance.

Q: Can I have multiple homestead exemptions on different properties?

A: No, you may only claim the homestead exemption on your primary residence. If you own more than one property, you've got to choose your main home to apply for the exemption.

Q: What happens if I move during the year?

A: The Homestead exemption stays until Jan 1st of the next year. However, when you move you can apply for homestead and portability at the new home.

Q: Can I lose my homestead exemption?

A: Yes, you can lose your homestead exemption if you longer meet the eligibility requirements. This includes selling the property, renting it out, or moving to a different primary residence. It’s crucial to keep the Property Appraiser’s office updated on any changes to avoid penalties or losing the exemption.

Conclusion

In summary, the homestead exemption is a powerful tool for Tampa homeowners, offering significant property tax savings and long-term financial protection. 

Key Takeaways:

  • The homestead exemption can reduce your home's assessed value by up to $50,000, leading to substantial tax savings.
  • The Save Our Homes cap protects us from sharp increases in property taxes, even if property values rise quickly.
  • Additional exemptions are available for specific groups, such as seniors, veterans, and disabled persons.
  • Meeting the eligibility requirements and gathering the necessary documents ensures a smooth application process.
  • Staying informed, consulting with professionals, and keeping accurate records help you maintain your exemption and maximize benefits.

If you haven't already, now is the perfect time to apply for the homestead exemption and start saving on your property taxes.

Have other questions or need help with another aspect of your home, feel free to reach out to me.

Contact me today!


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