Pay Less Taxes by Applying to the Homestead Exemption

If you reside permanently in your home, you have the property title as of January 1st, and you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in the United States, you may qualify to pay less taxes on your home.

 

By: Edda Pujadas

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If you purchased a home during 2019, then this is the time to start enjoying the tax benefits. State law allows Florida homeowners to claim an exemption of up to $50,000 on their primary residence. 

This exemption is commonly known as Homestead Exemption. In the event that you have owned property already and are not yet enjoying this tax discount, you can also take advantage of it and apply to get it. Remember that this might mean significant savings on the property tax bill that you must pay annually between November and March.

Please note that the first $25,000 dollars of this exemption apply to all tax authorities, while the second $25,000 dollars excludes the School Board taxes and applies those properties with assessed values over $50,000 dollars. Also, remember that the “non-ad Valorem” portion of your taxes can have a significant impact on the amount you pay annually.

Requirements

Actually, applying to the Homestead Exemption benefit is very easy, you can do it online, in person at the Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser’s offices or by sending your application by regular mail, the most important thing is that you meet the following requirements: have your property title as of January 1st, reside permanently in that property ( this must be the same address than the one in your drivers license, voter registration card, vehicle registration and/or tax return), you must be a United States citizen or permanent resident of the United States and of the State of Florida.

Before completing the application, each applicant will need the following information: Property folio number (you can search for your folio number in the Miami-Dade County property search page: https://www8.miamidade.gov/Apps/PA/propertysearch/#/), your Social Security Number (SSN), birth date, marital status, Florida Driver’s license number, Florida vehicle registration, Florida voter registration information (for U.S. citizens) and Permanent Resident number (for non-citizens). All of these documents must reflect the address of the property for which the exemption is being requested.

If you are applying online, all these documents must have been previously downloaded to your computer, as you will need to upload them at the end of the application into the system. The online application can be made through the page:  https://www.miamidade.gov/Apps/PA/PAOnlineTools/AutoOnlineFile/ExemptionOnlineMainMenu.aspx. To send it by regular mail, you can mail it at Property Appraiser, PO BOX 013140, Miami, FL 33101-3140.

 If you want to apply in person, you have two options: one in Downtown Miami, located at the Stephen P. Clark Center (SPCC) at 111 NW First Street, Suite 710, Miami, Florida, 33128; the other one in the South, located at the South Dade Government Center, 10710 SW 211 Street, Suite 207, Cutler Bay, Florida, 33189.

The deadline for filing for the Homestead Exemption and its benefits is Monday, March 2nd, 2020. Applications will also be accepted at the “application events” that take place on Saturdays or at night at several locations in the county. If you want to check the calendar of events, you can access https://www8.miamidade.gov/global/calendar/property-appraiser.page. You can also call 305_375_4089 and 305_375_4712, for more information.

Given that the Homestead Exemption is considered a tax benefit, in case you are already enjoying it, but have changed any of the conditions of your home, you must immediately inform the Office of the Property Appraiser; otherwise, you could be sanctioned.

If changes are not notified, the homeowner may be subject to 10 years of back taxes, plus a penalty of 15% annual interest and a 50% fine. For example, if you rent your property or a portion of it, you must notify the Property Appraiser of this and understand that you will lose all or a portion of your Homestead Exemption on that property.

Other changes that you must report and process before the Property Appraiser’s Office are, to mention some: Granny Flat’s exemption, any refinancing, changes in the title, successions, and any military order must also be renewed.

In addition to the Homestead Exemption, Homeowners in Miami-Dade County may apply to other exemptions such as low-income senior citizen assistance, (if you are 65 years of age or older as of January 1st), Long term resident Senior citizen (applies if you have been living in the property for a minimum of 25 years), $500 if you are a widow and $500 for disability or blindness for civilians.

There are also applicable benefits for veterans and civilians with total or permanent disabilities, discounts for veterans, deployed military personnel, and for grandparents living in the household of the homeowner (applicable to parents or grandparents of the homeowner of the residence).

While it is important that you know and enjoy the tax benefits that you have on your home, it is also important to keep in mind that you need to fulfill your obligation to pay taxes on an annual basis on your property. If you already paid them during November or December, you were able to get a 4% and 3% discount respectively.

If you have not yet paid your property taxes, you are still on time to get a 2% discount if you pay in January and a 1% discount if you pay in February. By March, you will have to pay your bill without any discount; nevertheless, you must comply with this fiscal responsibility, and you can do it through the Miami Dade portal: https://miamidade.county-taxes.com/public.

 

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