Claiming the Florida Homestead Exemption

Have you read our article discussing the tax consequences of a Florida residence change?

If you have determined that you should claim a Florida homestead exemption,  make sure you have also read our article discussing how to change your residence to Florida, and have followed the steps to become a Florida resident.

Once that is done, you are ready to complete the next steps in the process of applying for a Florida homestead exemption. While this may feel like a daunting task, obtaining a Florida homestead exemption is well worth the effort. Consider these benefits of the homestead exemption:

  1. Reduces the value of a home for property tax assessment by $50,000,
  2. Reduces the value of a home that is used in determining the school district portion of the property tax assessment by $25,000,
  3. Limits the increases to a home’s assessed value to three percent (3%) or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. If you are over the age of 65 with limited income, you may qualify for additional savings or benefits.

Steps to Claim Florida Homestead Exemption

  • Obtain an application form from your county’s Property Appraiser’s Office. The form can usually be found on the county’s website. Review the form, preferably with a Florida licensed attorney, to determine whether your county has any requirements in addition to those that follow.
  • Present a valid Florida driver’s license with your application. If you have a Florida identification card, but not a driver’s license, the state identification card may be used instead. If you have a Michigan driver’s license, Florida will issue you a Florida driver’s license without requiring an exam or road test. Keep in mind that all new applications and renewals are still required to pass the regular vision screening test. Check the requirements of your county to determine which documents you will need to present for identification in order to be issued a Florida driver’s license.
  • Present a valid voter’s registration OR a Declaration of Domicile with your application. You can access a form to register to vote here, and then submit it online or print it and mail it in. View the requirements for registering to vote here. You also should have filed a Declaration of Domicile when establishing Florida residency. The forms are provided by the County Clerk and typically available on your county’s website.
  • Register at least one of your vehicles in Florida, and present proof with your application. You will need to have the vehicle insured by a company doing business in Florida in order to register the Florida vehicle. You will then need to present the proof of insurance, a valid Florida driver’s license, and your vehicle title to a Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) Office, where a VIN inspection and odometer reading will be completed. Florida does require an initial $225 vehicle registration fee the first time any vehicle is registered, and if you have owned the vehicle for less than six months, you may owe Florida sales tax on the purchase price, even if you bought the vehicle out of state. However, Florida residents typically enjoy much lower auto insurance premiums than in Michigan, where residents pay some of the highest premiums in the country due to the No-Fault Law. Accordingly, you should quickly recoup any extra vehicle charges and/or taxes in saved insurance premiums—and may consider registering all of your vehicles in Florida instead of just one, as required.
  • Present proof of ownership of your property with your application. Proof of ownership can be demonstrated with a copy of a tax bill or your deed. Depending on how long you have owned the residence, record of ownership may already be on file with the Property Appraiser’s Office. If your home is held in trust, you may need to present a Declaration of Trust, or you may need to amend language in your trust or deed to include the proper language relating to homestead exemptions. Be sure to consult a Florida licensed attorney before deciding whether to place your Florida property in trust. If your home is already in trust, consult a Florida licensed attorney to determine whether any changes need to be made to avoid complications when applying for the homestead exemption.
  • Present proof that you are no longer claiming the Michigan principal residence exemption with your application. You will need to present proof that you are not claiming an exemption for every county in which you own residential real estate—typically a form signed by the Property Tax Assessor. A request to rescind is not sufficient, you must obtain proof that the exemption has actually been rescinded. Your Florida homestead exemption application may be denied until you can furnish this proof.

Clearly, claiming the Florida homestead exemption is an involved process, but the benefits can be great. If you would like assistance with completing any of the above steps, checking county-specific requirements, or locating county-specific forms, feel free to contact Mammel Law at 248-644-6326. We have an attorney who is licensed in Florida.


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