The Homestead Exemption is a benefit for homeowners who are permanent Florida residents. The homestead and other exemptions lower a property's taxable value and, ultimately, lower the taxes due on that property. Unfortunately, some property owners fraudulently claim exemptions – particularly homestead exemptions on rental or vacant property, second homes or other properties where they do not reside. This takes money away from vital public services like law enforcement, libraries, parks and schools. Cheating on your exemptions can create a shortfall in revenue that must be made up somewhere else - usually by honest taxpayers that abide by the law.
State law requires you, the property owner, to notify the Property Appraiser's Office by March 1 if the property was no longer eligible for a homestead or other exemption on January 1. Failure to do so can result in severe consequences including back taxes going back as far as ten years, plus 50% penalties and 15% interest.
Below are a few examples of possible situations that would make a property owner ineligible for a homestead exemption. There are others. (See Florida Statutes 193.155(10), 196.031, 196.011(9)(a) and 196.161.)
- If the property is rented.
- If the homesteaded owner dies and the property continues to carry the exemption in future years in the name of the deceased owner.
- If the property owner changes his/her voter registration and driver's license to another residence.
(Please note that Florida law allows active members of the Armed Forces to rent their residence without loss of the homestead exemption. A copy of Military Orders must be supplied to the Property Appraiser's Office.)
If you know of someone who is claiming a homestead exemption or other exemption for which he/she is not entitled, please notify us by contacting our Exemption Abuse Hotline at 904-255-7964 or by using our Exemption Abuse Report Form. You may remain anonymous. However, if you wish to be contacted, you may leave your name and telephone number, but again, this is not required. Be aware, however, that information provided, including your name, e-mail address and phone number, is subject to public disclosure.
Please leave the following information if you have it:
- The address of the property.
- Whether the property is vacant, a rental or a vacation home.
- The length of time since the owner has lived at the property.
- The address where you believe the owner lives now (if known).
Please Note: The status of a property on January 1 each year is used to determine the property's value and exemption status for the entire year. That means if a homesteaded property owner sells his property, the exemption will remain on the property for the entire calendar year, and will be removed as of January 1 the next year. After a property is sold, there will still be an exemption on the property after the sale through the end of the year; however that exemption is NOT the new owner's exemption. The new owner must file for a homestead exemption.