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Understanding Florida Real Estate Taxes

Aug 17, 2007
No matter where you live, state taxes are a part of life. States use the taxes collected from homeowners to pay for vital community infrastructure. In Florida, the state collects approximately $36 billion per year in general tax revenue, which is used for schools, health care assistance, environmental protection, and numerous other state-funded programs. Taxes on businesses, large corporations and merchandise, rentals and services make up the majority of this revenue, but Florida homeowners also make a significant contribution.

A clear understanding of Florida property taxes is an asset to any Florida home buyer. If you are considering a new home purchase in Florida, knowing the amount of tax you will need to pay, both at closing and on an annual basis, is an integral step in establishing a realistic housing budget. Certain taxes are assessed at the time of closing on your new home, while most annual taxes are deducted from your initial escrow account. An additional tax payment added to your monthly mortgage is used to replenish this escrow account each year.

Taxes due at closing

Whenever real estate is transferred in Florida, either by quit-claim deed, warranty deed, or a written obligation to pay (such as a mortgage) is filed, a Florida document tax must be paid to the County Clerk's Office if the document is files, and directly to the Florida Department of Revenue if the document is not filed.

The Florida home buyer will be assessed a Florida mortgage tax, which is typically $0.35 per every $100 of the home's value. A Florida State Mortgage Intangible Tax may also be assessed at an average rate of $0.35 per every $100 of the home's value. Taxable home value is calculated by using a fair market price estimate.

Ad Valorem (property) taxes

All Florida residents are required to pay an annual Ad Valorem, or property, tax. The amount of tax due each year depends on the taxable value of your home, and on your county of residence. A comprehensive list of property tax rates among Florida counties can be obtained from the Florida Department of Revenue.

Tax exemptions

For many Florida residents, tax exemptions help to lower their annual property tax bills. The primary exemption available in the state of Florida is the Homestead Exemption, but there are many others available. The Widow's and Widower's Exemption, The $500 Disability Exemption, and the $5,000 Disability Exemption, to name a few. Tax exempt amounts are deducted from the fair market value of the home.

Homestead Exemption

The largest tax exemption for Florida home owners is the Homestead Exemption. A Homestead Exemption allows you to deduct $25,000 from the fair market value of your Florida home. To qualify, you must be a Florida resident, the home in question must be your primary residence as of January 1st.

Applying for this exemption is relatively simple. First, you must obtain a Homestead Exemption from your local property appraiser's office. Standard application questions include: Name on property's recorded title, street address of the property, length of time title holder has been a Florida resident, confirmation that title holder has a Florida license plate and driver's license, and whether title holder resided at the property address as of January 1st.

Tax exemptions for disabled persons

The state of Florida offers several tax exemptions for those with permanent disabilities. Any Florida resident who is totally and permanently disabled may qualify for at $500 exemption. Residents who are ex-service members and who sustained at least a 10% disability in war or service-connected injury may apply for a $5,000 exemption on any property they own.

If you are an ex-service member who sustained an injury in wartime or service-related activities which let to a total and complete disability, you may be entitled to a complete tax exemption on your primary residence.

Property tax exemptions in the amount of $500 are available to blind persons residing in Florida.

Additional exemptions

Finally, property tax exemptions are available to widowed residents and residents over the age of 65. Florida Residents over the age of 65 who have an annual income of less than $20,000 may be entitled to an additional $25,000 Homestead Exemption.

Any widow or widower who can show permanent Florida residency is entitled to an additional $500 tax exemption. This exemption is revoked upon re-marriage.

For additional information on tax exemptions, qualifications, residency requirements and application forms, Florida residents can contact the county property appraiser, tax collector, or Florida Department of Revenue.
About the Author
Concrete Florida Homes survive hurricanes - Tom Beaty a real estate broker and
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