As part of your estate planning, you want to make sure your largest estate asset, your Miami home, is properly protected. Florida state homestead exemption law reduces the taxable value of your primary residence by up to $25,000 or $50,000 for married couples for property that is assessed at $50,000 or greater. This means your estate saves money on property taxes.

Qualifying for Homestead Exemption
The Florida homestead exemption is only available to U.S. citizens, permanent resident aliens or others who are considered legally permanent residents under U.S. immigration laws. The exemption does not apply to rental property, second or vacation homes of Florida property owners whose permanent residence is in another state, or to businesses or corporate entities. Agricultural use of land does not qualify, but may be eligible lower property taxes under a special classification.

A Miami estate attorney can advise you of the homestead exemption laws and whether you qualify for the Florida homestead property exemption.

Portability and the Save Our Homes Amendment
Properties that receive the homestead exemption qualify under the “Save Our Homes” Amendment, which went into effect January 2008, which allow homestead property owners to transfer up to $500,000 portability benefit from their current homestead property to their next Florida home. Under the Florida’s Save Our Homes Act, the annual assessed value of a Florida homestead property is restricted to the annual increase of the lesser of any increase in the Consumer Price Index or three percent (3%) per year.

How to Apply for First Time Miami Homestead
Keep in mind that when you purchase a new home, you do not receive the previous resident’s homestead exemptions. First time Miami homestead exemption applicants can apply either online at the Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser’s website or by mail. The application must be made by March 1 of the year in which you are seeking the exemption. You must record your ownership or beneficial interest deed with County Recorder as of January 1 in order for the Property Appraiser’s Office to approve your homestead exemption.

Senior 65 or Older Additional Property Tax Benefits
Seniors 65 or older with limited income may also qualify for additional property tax benefits. Effective 2013, a new law now authorizes Florida cities and counties to grant additional homestead property tax relief to low-income seniors who have resided in their primary residence at least 25 years or more, own a home with market value less than $250,000 and have adjusted gross income of less than $27,590.

The following Florida cities have adopted the new law:
• Bay Harbor Islands
• City of Homestead
• Hialeah
• Hialeah Gardens
• Miami
• Miami Beach
• Miami-Dade County
• Miami Lakes
• North Bay Village
• Opa-Locka
• Palmetto Bay
• Pinecrest
• Virginia Gardens

Applicants who meet the criteria must file an application with the County Property Appraiser’s Office (Form DR-501SC) by March 1st of the year in which they are seeking the exemption and must provide a social security statement and income tax returns.

Other Personal Exemptions
There may be other personal exemptions that you qualify for as well such as those offered to widows and widowers, certain individuals and veterans with permanent and/or total disabilities such as the legally blind may qualify for 100 percent exemption from ad valorem taxes. Not for profit organizations, who use their properties for exempt purposes, may also be eligible for tax savings as well.

If you have questions about the Florida homestead property exemption or questions about estate planning, speak with a Miami estate attorney. Call the Law Offices of Albert Gurevich at (786) 522-1411.