We’re nearing the end of another year and along with the holidays it also means preparing for that time everyone loves: tax season. We’re here to remind homeowners that you can save big on property taxes this year—if you know what you’re doing. Here’s everything you need to know about Florida’s homestead exemption, and how it can help you reduce your tax burden (like, a lot!)

What is a homestead exemption?

The homestead tax exemption incentivizes Florida property owners to actually live in Florida—not just own a vacation home or rental. It has roots in the Great Depression when many Florida residents were in serious danger of being unable to pay property taxes and thus losing their homes. In 1933 the Homestead Exemption Amendment made it onto the ballot and was handily voted into the State Constitution. This initial exemption was for the first $5,000 of a homeowner’s residence and was upped to $10,000 in the 1960s. Today, homeowners can receive an exemption of up to $50,000. For homes valued at under $50,000, the first $25,000 will be exempt; an additional $25,000 is available to homes assessed over $50,000.

How do I qualify and apply?

To qualify for the Florida homestead exemption you must:

• Be the property owner
• Maintain the property as your permanent residence or the residence of someone you can claim as a dependent
• Have been residing in the home as of January 1st of the current tax year
• Not have rented the property for more than 30 days of the calendar year

Applying is easy and fairly straightforward. The first year you are eligible, you must submit a DR-501 form to your local property appraiser by March 1st of the tax year you would like the exemption. The application can be mailed, submitted online, or delivered in person to your local county appraiser’s office. Best of all, it’s a one-time thing—no pesky yearly reapplications! As long as you remain at the same home and maintain it as your primary residence, your homestead exemption automatically renews each year. Remember: apply by March 1st, and you can save big on taxes this year!

Have more questions about homestead exemptions? Have a property tax issue that needs solving? Contact our team! We’re ready and willing to be your local real estate resource this tax season and we’re committed to helping homeowners love where the live—even during one of the least anticipated seasons of the year!