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Homestead Exemption

The provision addressing a property owner's right to claim a homestead tax exemption is found in Article VII, section 6, of the Florida Constitution:

196.061 (1) The rental of all or substantially all of a dwelling previously claimed to be a homestead for tax purposes shall constitute the abandonment of such dwelling as a homestead, and the abandonment continues until the dwelling is physically occupied by the owner. However, such abandonment of the homestead after January 1 of any year does not affect the homestead exemption for tax purposes for that particular year unless the property is rented for more than 30 days per calendar year for 2 consecutive years.

196.041 Extent of homestead exemptions.—(2) A person who otherwise qualifies by the required residence for the homestead tax exemption provided in s. 196.031shall be entitled to such exemption where the person’s possessory right in such real property is based upon an instrument granting to him or her a beneficial interest for life, such interest being hereby declared to be “equitable title to real estate,” as that term is employed in s. 6, Art. VII of the State Constitution; and such person shall be entitled to the homestead tax exemption irrespective of whether such interest was created prior or subsequent to the effective date of this act.

1196.031 Exemption of homesteads.— (1)(a) A person who, on January 1, has the legal title or beneficial title in equity to real property in this state and who in good faith makes the property his or her permanent residence or the permanent residence of another or others legally or naturally dependent upon him or her, is entitled to an exemption from all taxation (6)…Failure by the property owner to commence the repair or rebuilding of the homestead property within 3 years after January 1 following the property’s damage or destruction constitutes abandonment of the property as a homestead. After the 3-year period, the expiration, lapse, nonrenewal, or revocation of a building permit issued to the property owner for such repairs or rebuilding also constitutes abandonment of the property as homestead.

Fla. Stat. Ch. 193.155 Homestead assessments. (Florida Statutes (2014 Edition))

(8) Property assessed under this section shall be assessed at less than just value when the person who establishes a new homestead has received a homestead exemption as of January 1 of either of the 2 immediately preceding years.A person who establishes a new homestead as of January 1, 2008, is entitled to have the new homestead assessed at less than just value only if that person received a homestead exemption on January 1, 2007, and only if this subsection applies retroactive to January 1, 2008. For purposes of this subsection, a husband and wife who owned and both permanently resided on a previous homestead shall each be considered to have received the homestead exemption even though only the husband or the wife applied for the homestead exemption on the previous homestead. The assessed value of the newly established homestead shall be determined as provided in this subsection.

(a) If the just value of the new homestead as of January 1 is greater than or equal to the just value of the immediate prior homestead as of January 1 of the year in which the immediate prior homestead was abandoned, the assessed value of the new homestead shall be the just value of the new homestead minus an amount equal to the lesser of $500,000 or the difference between the just value and the assessed value of the immediate prior homestead as of January 1 of the year in which the prior homestead was abandoned.Thereafter, the homestead shall be assessed as provided in this section.

(b) If the just value of the new homestead as of January 1 is less than the just value of the immediate prior homestead as of January 1 of the year in which the immediate prior homestead was abandoned, the assessed value of the new homestead shall be equal to the just value of the new homestead divided by the just value of the immediate prior homestead and multiplied by the assessed value of the immediate prior homestead. However, if the difference between the just value of the new homestead and the assessed value of the new homestead calculated pursuant to this paragraph is greater than $500,000, the assessed value of the new homestead shall be increased so that the difference between the just value and the assessed value equals $500,000. Thereafter, the homestead shall be assessed as provided in this section.

(c) If two or more persons who have each received a homestead exemption as of January 1 of either of the 2 immediately preceding years and who would otherwise be eligible to have a new homestead property assessed under this subsection establish a single new homestead, the reduction from just value is limited to the higher of the difference between the just value and the assessed value of either of the prior eligible homesteads as of January 1 of the year in which either of the eligible prior homesteads was abandoned, but may not exceed $500,000.

(d) If two or more persons abandon jointly owned and jointly titled property that received a homestead exemption as of January 1 of either of the 2 immediately preceding years, and one or more such persons who were entitled to and received a homestead exemption on the abandoned property establish a new homestead that would otherwise be eligible for assessment under this subsection, each such person establishing a new homestead is entitled to a reduction from just value for the new homestead equal to the just value of the prior homestead minus the assessed value of the prior homestead divided by the number of owners of the prior homestead who received a homestead exemption, unless the title of the property contains specific ownership shares, in which case the share of reduction from just value shall be proportionate to the ownership share. In the case of a husband and wife abandoning jointly titled property, the husband and wife may designate the ownership share to be attributed to each spouse by following the procedure in paragraph (f). To qualify to make such a designation, the husband and wife must be married on the date that the jointly owned property is abandoned. In calculating the assessment reduction to be transferred from a prior homestead that has an assessment reduction for living quarters of parents or grandparents pursuant to s. 193.703, the value calculated pursuant to s. 193.703(6) must first be added back to the assessed value of the prior homestead. The total reduction from just value for all new homesteads established under this paragraph may not exceed $500,000. There shall be no reduction from just value of any new homestead unless the prior homestead is reassessed at just value or is reassessed under this subsection as of January 1 after the abandonment occurs.

(e) If one or more persons who previously owned a single homestead and each received the homestead exemption qualify for a new homestead where all persons who qualify for homestead exemption in the new homestead also qualified for homestead exemption in the previous homestead without an additional person qualifying for homestead exemption in the new homestead, the reduction in just value shall be calculated pursuant to paragraph (a) or paragraph (b), without application of paragraph (c) or paragraph (d).

(f) A husband and wife abandoning jointly titled property who wish to designate the ownership share to be attributed to each person for purposes of paragraph (d) must file a form provided by the department with the property appraiser in the county where such property is located. The form must include a sworn statement by each person designating the ownership share to be attributed to each person for purposes of paragraph (d) and must be filed prior to either person filing the form required under paragraph (h) to have a parcel of property assessed under this subsection. Such a designation, once filed with the property appraiser, is irrevocable.

(g) For purposes of receiving an assessment reduction pursuant to this subsection, a person entitled to assessment under this section may abandon his or her homestead even though it remains his or her primary residence by notifying the property appraiser of the county where the homestead is located. This notification must be in writing and delivered at the same time as or before timely filing a new application for homestead exemption on the property.

(h) In order to have his or her homestead property assessed under this subsection, a person must file a form provided by the department as an attachment to the application for homestead exemption, including a copy of the form required to be filed under paragraph (f), if applicable. The form, which must include a sworn statement attesting to the applicant’s entitlement to assessment under this subsection, shall be considered sufficient documentation for applying for assessment under this subsection. The department shall require by rule that the required form be submitted with the application for homestead exemption under the timeframes and processes set forth in chapter 196 to the extent practicable.

(i)1. If the previous homestead was located in a different county than the new homestead, the property appraiser in the county where the new homestead is located must transmit a copy of the completed form together with a completed application for homestead exemption to the property appraiser in the county where the previous homestead was located. If the previous homesteads of applicants for transfer were in more than one county, each applicant from a different county must submit a separate form.

2. The property appraiser in the county where the previous homestead was located must return information to the property appraiser in the county where the new homestead is located by April 1 or within 2 weeks after receipt of the completed application from that property appraiser, whichever is later. As part of the information returned, the property appraiser in the county where the previous homestead was located must provide sufficient information concerning the previous homestead to allow the property appraiser in the county where the new homestead is located to calculate the amount of the assessment limitation difference which may be transferred and must certify whether the previous homestead was abandoned and has been or will be reassessed at just value or reassessed according to the provisions of this subsection as of the January 1 following its abandonment.

3. Based on the information provided on the form from the property appraiser in the county where the previous homestead was located, the property appraiser in the county where the new homestead is located shall calculate the amount of the assessment limitation difference which may be transferred and apply the difference to the January 1 assessment of the new homestead.

4. All property appraisers having information-sharing agreements with the department are authorized to share confidential tax information with each other pursuant to s. 195.084, including social security numbers and linked information on the forms provided pursuant to this section.

5. The transfer of any limitation is not final until any values on the assessment roll on which the transfer is based are final. If such values are final after tax notice bills have been sent, the property appraiser shall make appropriate corrections and a corrected tax notice bill shall be sent. Any values that are under administrative or judicial review shall be noticed to the tribunal or court for accelerated hearing and resolution so that the intent of this subsection may be carried out.

6. If the property appraiser in the county where the previous homestead was located has not provided information sufficient to identify the previous homestead and the assessment limitation difference is transferable, the taxpayer may file an action in circuit court in that county seeking to establish that the property appraiser must provide such information.

7. If the information from the property appraiser in the county where the previous homestead was located is provided after the procedures in this section are exercised, the property appraiser in the county where the new homestead is located shall make appropriate corrections and a corrected tax notice and tax bill shall be sent.

8. This subsection does not authorize the consideration or adjustment of the just, assessed, or taxable value of the previous homestead property.

9. The property appraiser in the county where the new homestead is located shall promptly notify a taxpayer if the information received, or available, is insufficient to identify the previous homestead and the amount of the assessment limitation difference which is transferable. Such notification shall be sent on or before July 1 as specified in s. 196.151.

10. The taxpayer may correspond with the property appraiser in the county where the previous homestead was located to further seek to identify the homestead and the amount of the assessment limitation difference which is transferable.

11. If the property appraiser in the county where the previous homestead was located supplies sufficient information to the property appraiser in the county where the new homestead is located, such information shall be considered timely if provided in time for inclusion on the notice of proposed property taxes sent pursuant to ss. 194.011 and 200.065(1).

12. If the property appraiser has not received information sufficient to identify the previous homestead and the amount of the assessment limitation difference which is transferable before mailing the notice of proposed property taxes, the taxpayer may file a petition with the value adjustment board in the county where the new homestead is located.

(j) Any person who is qualified to have his or her property assessed under this subsection and who fails to file an application by March 1 may file an application for assessment under this subsection and may, pursuant to s. 194.011(3), file a petition with the value adjustment board requesting that an assessment under this subsection be granted. Such petition may be filed at any time during the taxable year on or before the 25th day following the mailing of the notice by the property appraiser as provided in s. 194.011(1). Notwithstanding s. 194.013, such person must pay a nonrefundable fee of $15 upon filing the petition. Upon reviewing the petition, if the person is qualified to receive the assessment under this subsection and demonstrates particular extenuating circumstances judged by the property appraiser or the value adjustment board to warrant granting the assessment, the property appraiser or the value adjustment board may grant an assessment under this subsection. For the 2008 assessments, all petitioners for assessment under this subsection shall be considered to have demonstrated particular extenuating circumstances.

(k) Any person who is qualified to have his or her property assessed under this subsection and who fails to timely file an application for his or her new homestead in the first year following eligibility may file in a subsequent year. The assessment reduction shall be applied to assessed value in the year the transfer is first approved, and refunds of tax may not be made for previous years.

(l) The property appraisers of the state shall, as soon as practicable after March 1 of each year and on or before July 1 of that year, carefully consider all applications for assessment under this subsection which have been filed in their respective offices on or before March 1 of that year. If, upon investigation, the property appraiser finds that the applicant is entitled to assessment under this subsection, the property appraiser shall make such entries upon the tax rolls of the county as are necessary to allow the assessment. If, after due consideration, the property appraiser finds that the applicant is not entitled to the assessment under this subsection, the property appraiser shall immediately prepare a notice of such disapproval, giving his or her reasons therefor, and a copy of the notice must be served upon the applicant by the property appraiser by personal delivery or by registered mail to the post office address given by the applicant. The applicant may appeal the decision of the property appraiser refusing to allow the assessment under this subsection to the value adjustment board, and the board shall review the application and evidence presented to the property appraiser upon which the applicant based the claim and hear the applicant in person or by agent on behalf of his or her right to such assessment. Such appeal shall be heard by an attorney special magistrate if the value adjustment board uses special magistrates. The value adjustment board shall reverse the decision of the property appraiser in the cause and grant assessment under this subsection to the applicant if, in its judgment, the applicant is entitled to the assessment or shall affirm the decision of the property appraiser. The action of the board is final in the cause unless the applicant, within 60 days following the date of refusal of the application by the board, files in the circuit court of the county in which the homestead is located a proceeding against the property appraiser for a declaratory judgment as is provided under chapter 86 or other appropriate proceeding. The failure of the taxpayer to appear before the property appraiser or value adjustment board or to file any paper other than the application as provided in this subsection does not constitute a bar to or defense in the proceedings.