1. File form DR501 With Your County Property Appraiser's Office
To be eligible to file for Homestead you must reside in your home in Florida at least 183 days per year with the intent to permanently remain, have a Florida driver’s license or other Florida ID, and not have another homestead outside of Florida.
Download The DR-501T Form
Are You Married?
If you’re married, then your spouse will need to come with you
What Should I Bring?
There’s a list of things that you’ll need to bring for your filing, and we suggest that before you go to file that you visit your county’s property appraiser website. To get to your Property Appraiser’s website type in your search engine: “ Property Appraiser”. Once on the website for the Property Appraiser, please click on “Filing for Homestead” and review the list of things to bring to file. You don’t want to go down there and find out that you forgot something!
2. Check to see if you may be eligible to transfer homestead savings™ from a prior home in florida. Have you owned another Homestead in Florida within the last 2 years?
Please reference the attached form DR501. This form needs to be filed with your county Property Appraiser's office. Please note that some counties allow you to file online, but if you choose to do so, then be SURE that after you have completed the online filing process that you check no later than the day before the filing deadline with the Property Appraiser's office to make sure that the filing was received and has been processed. The filing deadline each year is March 1st. To be eligible to file for a year you must have been living in the property with the intent to permanently remain there (and meet the Property Appraiser's other requirements) as of January 1st of that year. January 2nd is too late! So if you moved into your home any time during the previous tax year after Jan. 1st then you can file any time before March 1st of the following year, and your Homestead Filing will be effective as of January 1st for that year.
What year will your Homestead filing be effective?
Look back the two PRIOR years before that, and if you had a Homestead exemption in
place in Florida in either of those prior two years then you are eligible to transfer your
Homestead Savings™ from that Homestead. To file for Portability you must file the
DR501T form with your county Property Appraiser’s office. Many counties will allow you to also file this form electronically, and some
will automatically attach the DR501T form if you state in your online filing that you had
a prior Homestead in Florida in the previous two calendar years. Again, if you file
online, be sure and check back before the filing deadline to make sure that your filing
was processed. The filing deadline for Portability each year is March 1st.
3. Make sure you file for all eligible exemptions
“Exemptions” save you money on your property taxes. An Exemption is for a certain amount of money, and if you are eligible for that exemption then you get to subtract that from the Market Value of your Property and you are assessed taxes against that lower amount (what is called the “Assessed Value”). Make sure when you file for Homestead that you file for all exemptions that you are eligible for. All homes in Florida with a Market Value over $75,000 are eligible for an exemption of $50,000. This is called the “Standard Exemption.” If the Market Value of the home is less than $75,00, then the $50,000 is reduced by the amount that the home’s Market Value is less than $75,000 until the Standard Exemption is reduced to $25,000. So, for example, if your home has a Market Value of $50,000, then you only get a Standard Exemption of $25,000. If your home has a Market Value of $60,000, then you get a Standard Exemption of $35,000. There are exemptions for widows and widowers, deployed servicepersons, the blind, seniors, and many others. Some of the exemptions are automatic if you meet the category, and others are only available if your income is below a certain level. Most exemptions give you some money off the Market Value, and others will give you a complete exemption from paying ANY property taxes! In conducting your Homestead Check™, we have checked to see if it looks like you are eligible for any exemptions beyond the Standard Exemption, and if so, have pointed them out to you. That being said, it’s still important to exhaustively go down the list of available exemptions for your County when you file for Homestead. Some exemptions can vary if your home is in a municipality within a County.
Watch A Video On Exemptions
4. If it’s past march 1st: Late Filing
If you have missed the March 1st filing deadline in some cases you can file late. The latest date on which you can file is 25 days after the date on which the Truth in Millage Rate (“TRIM”) Notices are mailed, which is around Sept. 10th of each year. If you missed filing by March 1st for Homestead, then you can contact your Property Appraiser’s office, advise them that you missed the filing date, and you’ll have to tell them the reason that you missed the filing date. This may require that you file a Value Adjustment Board application requesting that they approve your late filing and paying a $15 filing fee. To be approved, the Property Appraiser or VAB must find that you had “particular extenuating circumstances”. It can’t hurt to try! If you are already past the last date for late filing (around Sept. 10th) or your application for late filing is denied, then it’s not the end of the world, your filing will be effective for next year. In such a case, you actually have until March 1st of next year to get it filed, but we don’t recommend waiting until then- go ahead and get it filed now- there’s no problem with filing early!
Watch A Video On Late Filing
5. There's a strategy here!
OK, here it is: If you forgot to file for Homestead, then the January 1st AFTER you file, your Market Value will be determined and your Assessed Value will be locked in. Obviously, since your Assessed Value is what you are paying taxes on you hope that it is initially assessed as low as possible. At that initial assessment, Market Value and Assessed Value are the same, so since your Homestead Savings™ are the difference between the two, it starts out as zero. In subsequent years your Market Value will hopefully go up- after all that’s why we buy a home in Florida! But since your Assessed Value is “locked in” by the “Save our Homes” provision of the Florida Homestead laws, it can only go up a maximum of 3% or the Consumer Price Index (CPI), whichever is less.
So as the years go on a gap hopefully forms between your rising Market Value and your locked-down Assessed Value. That gap is your Homestead Savings™ and there’s no limit to the savings you can enjoy from it! However, if you move and use Portability to take those savings with you to a subsequent Florida home, then you can take up to $500,000 of your Homestead Savings™ with you there. So keep a close watch in subsequent years each August when you get your Truth in Millage Rate (TRIM) notice in the mail. If you think that your Market Value is more than 15% lower than what you could actually sell your house for, then you want to object to it by the date shown in the TRIM notice and fight to get it as high as possible. This maximizes your Homestead Savings that you can take with you to any subsequent home in Florida up to the $500,000 limit! More on this in the details below, but be sure that you understand this overall strategy.