The homestead exemption is a legal regime to protect the value of the homes of residents from property taxes, creditors, and circumstances that arise from the death of the homeowner spouse. Such laws are found in the statutes or the constitution of many of the states in the United States.
What is Homestead Exemption?
If you own your home, reside there permanently and are a Florida resident as of January 1, you may qualify for Homestead exemption. Homestead can reduce your taxable value on your home as much as $50,000, saving you approximately $750 annually. More importantly, your assessed value, which is used to calculate your property taxes, cannot increase more than 3% annually after you are granted the exemption. In order to receive this benefit, you must apply before March 1. Not applying by March 1 constitutes a waiver of the exemption for that year and you must apply for the next year instead.
Am I eligible to file?
You must meet the following requirements as of January 1st:
- Have legal or beneficial title to the property, recorded in the Official Records of Orange County
- Reside on the property
- Be a permanent resident of the State of Florida
- Be a United States citizen or possess a Permanent Residence Card (green card)
When do I file?
The deadline is March 1 each year. Under Florida law, failure to file for any exemption by March 1st constitutes a waiver of the exemption privilege for the year.
How do I file?
Most tax collector office’s mail all new homeowners an exemption packet approximately 6-8 weeks after their deed is recorded in the county records. This packet includes instructions on how to apply online, by mail or in person for homestead. You may also contact your local county office to have a packet mailed to you. Please read all instructions carefully before submitting the application.
Where do I file?
We have a county by county list with information on where to file. Click HERE to be re-routed to that information.
To apply for homestead exemption by mail or in person, you must submit a copy of the following documents:
- All owners residing on the property and making application for the exemption must provide a valid Florida Driver’s License or Florida Identification Card, and
- At least one of the following:
- Florida Vehicle Registration
- Florida Voter Registration Card
- Recorded County of residence Declaration of Domicile (affidavit of residency obtained through your County’s Comptroller’s Office)
- Social Security numbers are required for all owners making application and their spouses, even if the spouse does not own and/or reside on the property. Preferably your card or some other document with your number.
- If you are not a United States Citizen, your Permanent Residence (green) Card (front and back).
If title to the property on which you are applying is held in a trust, a copy of the entire trust agreement must also be submitted via US mail of in person.
If you are filing on a mobile home, proof of ownership is required for both the mobile home and the property. A “Real Property” application must also be completed.
What if the property is in trust?
It is necessary for the applicant to furnish the Property Appraiser’s Office with a copy of the complete trust agreement and other required documentation (see “Required Documentation”) either via US mail or in person.
Florida law requires that the homestead applicant have legal title or beneficial title to the property, which we can only establish by reviewing the trust agreement if the property is in a trust.
Can I get Homestead Exemption on a mobile home?
Yes, you may qualify for a homestead exemption on your mobile home if you own both the land and the mobile home. When applying, you must provide the title or registration to the mobile home and other required documentation (see “Required Documentation”).
How long do exemptions continue?
Your exemptions may be automatically renewed each year, in January, as long as title does not change on the property and your residency status remains the same.Please note: Florida Law requires filing a new application when any title change or change in the recorded deed is made. Place a property into a trust is considered a change of ownership.
You are required to inform the Property Appraiser’s Office of any change in ownership or use of the property. Failure to report a change in ownership or use of the property may result in a denial of any exemptions and/or a lien on the property.
If I am granted an exemption, am I also exempted from non-ad valorem taxes?
No, whether you have a homestead exemption, a total & permanent disability exemption, or any other property based tax exemption; you are still responsible for non-ad valorem taxes. (Non-ad valorem taxes are taxes levied for services such as garbage collection, street lights, etc.)
Does my exemption follow me to my new home?
No. If you move after January 1st, the exemption will continue for the remainder of the year on the property where you initially filed for exemption.You must file a new application by March 1st when you purchase a new residence, the exemption does not transfer with you.
What is portability? How do I receive the Portability benefit?
If you had homestead on another property somewhere in Florida within the last two years, and you are applying for homestead on your new property in Orange County, you may be able to bring your “Save Our Homes” assessment savings accumulated on your previous property (also known as your Portability amount) with you to the new property. Portability is not automatic however, you must apply for it. To apply, you will need to complete form DR-501T and submit it with your new Homestead exemption application, or follow the instructions for Portability during the online application process. Remember, it is a separate application which must be filed in addition to the Homestead application and if you do not request Portability when applying for your new Homestead exemption, you may lose the savings accumulated on your former homestead.
What will cause me to lose my Homestead?
There are several reasons why a homeowner may lose their homestead exemption. Please be sure to pay attention to all mail you receive from our office as we may be notifying you that you’ve lost your exemption, we may be asking you to reapply, or we may be showing you the proposed taxes on your home and if you do not see your exemption listed, you may have lost it.
It is the homeowner’s responsibility to notify our office:
- If the ownership of your homestead property changes in any way, you must re-apply for homestead exemption. Ownership changes are transfers such as but not limited to:
- Preparing and/or recording a deed adding a name to the property
- Preparing and/or recording a deed removing a name from the property
- Preparing and/or recording a deed placing your property in to a Trust.
- Preparing and/or recording a deed placing your property in to a Life Estate
Florida law requires that you re-apply for the Homestead exemption anytime there has been a change of ownership. You MUST re-apply by March 1st. Even if you have always lived there, you must re-apply!
- If you are moving to a new property you must file for Homestead on the new property by March 1st.
- If you recently purchased a property and see a Homestead exemption listed in the property appraiser’s records, STOP, it’s not your exemption. You have inherited the previous owner’s exemption for the current tax year. If the property is your primary residence, you must file for your own Homestead exemption by March 1st. You will receive information in the mail from this office on “How to File”. You can file online, by mail, or in person.
- If you are an heir to a property which currently has a Homestead exemption, title is now in your name via an official record, and you occupied the property as your primary residence by January 1st, you must apply for your own Homestead exemption by March 1st.
- If you change your mailing address and fail to notify this office, your annual renewal receipt could be returned to our office and may cause your exemption to be denied.
- If you are active duty military and rent your home, you must provide this office with your new address and military orders. Failing to do this may result in your mail being returned and the exemption will be denied.
- If you move from the property, change the use in any manner or begin renting the property, you MUST notify our office and request the exemption be removed. Failing to notify our office could result in a lien being filed in accordance with Florida Statute 196.161 which has a 50% penalty and 15% interest per annum. Don’t let this happen to you!
- If you change your permanent residency in any way including but not limited to: changing your driver’s license to an address other than your homestead property, changing your voter’s registration to an address other than your homestead, registering your children for school outside your school district, or establishing residency elsewhere in any way may cause you to lose your homestead exemption.
Information courtesy of Orange County Tax Collector Office.