Whether you need to know how to pay your property taxes, are researching buying a home, or need to know what to do if you can’t pay your property taxes, this guide is for you.
What is the Florida property tax or real estate tax?
Florida property owners have to pay property taxes each year based on the value of their property. Property taxes apply to both homes and businesses.
The average property tax rate in Florida is 0.83%. Each county sets its own tax rate.
There are also special tax districts such as schools and water management districts that have a separate property tax rate. These can include fixed-amount non-ad valorem assessments.
You can see tax rates by county either summarized on the Florida CFO page or by finding the website for your county’s tax collector.
Agricultural properties typically have lower taxes, and many people apply for the agricultural classification for a portion of their property to reduce their property tax bill.
How do property taxes work for condos?
Condo owners pay property taxes based on the assessed value of their condo. While the factors that affect what a condo is worth may differ from a single-family home, the tax procedures and benefits work the same.
Under Florida Statute 718.120, all taxes are generally assessed against individual condo units. The association doesn’t pay taxes on the entire building or common areas.
A condo’s open spaces and amenities will factor into the value of each unit and the taxes that each unit pays.
What if you own multiple lots?
Some homes are sold as multiple lots or parcels. For example, two half-acre properties may be combined into a single acre that’s bought and sold together.
Multiple lots and parcels are treated as one property for property tax and Homestead Exemption purposes as long as they’re next to each other and you use them as if they’re a single property.
Can you deduct property taxes on your federal tax return?
Yes, you can generally deduct property taxes on your federal income tax return if you itemize your deductions and claim the State and Local Tax Deduction.
Are there limits on property taxes?
Florida has very strong limits on property tax increases for existing property owners. The Homestead Exemption also exempts property values up to a certain amount from property taxes.
Florida Homestead Exemption
You can qualify for the homestead exemption on your permanent, primary residence. There are two levels of the homestead exemption.
- The first $25,000 of your home’s value is not subject to property taxes.
- An additional $25,000 applies to the amount of your home’s value that is over $50,000 and up to $75,000. This exemption does not apply to school district taxes.
When you buy a property you’re making your permanent residence, apply for the Homestead Exemption at your local tax collector’s office. You usually don’t need to reapply each year unless you move.
Florida Save Our Homes
Florida Save Our Homes is a Constitutional amendment and related laws that limits how much the assessed value of your primary residence can increase. To qualify, you must receive the Homestead Exemption.
Under Save Our Homes, the assessed value of your property can’t increase by more than the lower of 3% or the change in the Consumer Price Index. The assessed value is the amount you pay taxes on.
|Year You Own Your Home
|The first year you own a home, the market value equals the assessed value
|Your assessed value can’t increase by more than 3% (or lower if the CPI is lower in that year)
|Even though market values didn’t increase, your assessed value still increases by 3%
|Market values fell but you were still not caught up to the market value. This is known as recapture.
|Your assessed value can’t be higher than the market value.
Florida Save Our Homes Portability
When you move to a new home in Florida, you can bring your Save Our Homes benefit with you. For example, say when you sold your home, the just value for property taxes was $150,000, and the assessed value was $100,000. You can bring $50,000 with you. If the just value of your next home is $250,000, your assessed value starts at $200,000.
The maximum amount you can transfer to a new home is $500,000. You have 3 years to buy a new home to avoid losing your benefit.
If you downsize, you can only bring a portion of the benefit based on the just or market value of each home. For example, if you had a $50,000 benefit on a home with a $150,000 market value and move to a home with a $75,000 market value, you can keep $25,000 of your benefit (75/150 = 50% x $50,000 = $25,000).
What if you improve the property?
If you make improvements or additions to your home, the value of those improvements are assessed at market value and added to your assessed value. There is no cap on the increase in your assessed value because of improvements.
For example, if you make $50,000 in improvements to a $100,000 home, your assessed value increases by the full $50,000. Once your assessed value is adjusted, the cap applies to your full assessed value in future years.
The Non-Homestead Cap works similarly to Save Our Homes. The difference is that it applies to properties, including businesses, that are not homesteads.
The cap is no more than a 10% increase in the assessed value of the property per year.
It applies to:
- Commercial property
- Residential property held as a rental property, second home, vacation home, or otherwise without the Homestead Exemption
It does not apply to property with the agricultural classification.
How does the Non-Homestead Assessment Limitation work?
Each property has a market value and assessed value for Florida property tax purposes.
The market value is the current value based on current market factors.
The assessed value is the value that you pay taxes on. When you buy a property, the market value and assessed value should be equal. In future years, the Non-Homestead Assessment Limitation may keep the assessed value below market value.
The assessed value doesn’t increase as quickly as market value because it can’t increase by more than 10% per year. (The assessed value will never be more than the market value if values rise by less than 10%).
If you have a 2% property tax rate, that $39,000 difference in year 3 gives you a $780 savings in property taxes.
What about property improvements?
The Non-Homestead Assessment Limitation only applies to the existing property as it currently is. It does not apply to increases in market value or assessed value due to improvements.
In the year of the improvements, the full increase in value from the improvements is added to the assessed value. It does not count towards the 10% limit if market values also went up.
In future years, the new assessed value (original property plus previous improvements) can only increase by 10% per year.
How is this different than homestead properties?
Homestead properties follow Save Our Homes rules. Those rules limit assessed value increases to the rate of inflation but no more than 3%.
Depending on inflation, a homestead property could see a 0% to 3% assessed value increase, while a non-homestead property can increase by up to 10%.
What happens if market values slow down?
If market value growth slows down, assessed values will keep increasing by 10% per year until they catch up with market values.
What happens if market values fall?
If market values fall when the assessed value is below the market value, the assessed value will continue increasing by up to 10% per year until it catches up. This is known as recapture.
The assessed value will never be higher than the market value. If market value drops below the assessed value, the assessed value drops with it.
What happens in a non-homestead property is sold?
Generally, non-homestead property is reset fo full market value when it is sold or transferred to a new owner. The new owner doesn’t receive the previous owner’s lower assessed value.
The new owner will pay property taxes based on the current market value in their first year of ownership and will have their own 10% limit for future years.
There are certain exceptions to the reset including most transfers between spouses (including divorce) and certain other administrative changes. Contact a Florida property tax expert to review your specific situation before making any moves.
Does the Non-Homestead Assessment Limitation apply to property tax increases?
The Non-Homestead Assessment Limitation only limits property tax increases due to changes in assessed value. It does not limit property tax rate increases or added non-ad valorem assessments.
For example, your county votes to increase property taxes from 2% to 3%. That’s a 50% increase. You will pay the full 3% even with the Non-Homestead Assessment Limitation.
Do you need to apply for the Non-Homestead Assessment Limitation?
There is generally no need to apply for the Non-Homestead Assessment Limitation since it typically automatically applies based on property type. However, you may want to contact your property appraiser to confirm the tax benefits on your property.
Other Property Tax Exemptions
Florida also has property tax benefits for several categories of people. Contact your local tax collector to confirm your eligibility and to apply.
- Quadriplegic person: Exempt from all ad valorem taxation
- Paraplegic, hemiplegic, or other totally and permanently disabled person who must use a wheelchair for mobility or who is legal blind may be exempt from taxation subject to income limits
- Every widow, widower, blind person, or other totally and permanently disabled person who is a resident of Florida receives an additional $500 exemption
- The homestead of a surviving spouse of a first responded who died in the line of duty is exempt from taxation
- Senior citizens who are over 65 are eligible for an additional $50,000 homestead exemption if they have owned the home at least 25 years, it is worth up to $250,000, and they meet income requirements
- Exemptions for veterans
- Honorably discharged service members with a 10% disaiblity receive a $5,000 reduction in their property’s assessed value
- 100% disabled veterans are exempt from property taxes
- Disabled veterans age 65 or older receive a discount on the assessed value of their property based on their disability rating
- Granny flats (adding living quarters for a parent or grandparent)
What happens when you buy a property?
When you buy a property, all property tax benefits reset on that property. The next owner will pay property taxes based on the current market value.
When buying a home in Florida, it is common for property taxes to increase substantially over what the previous owner was paying, even if their property wasn’t a homestead property. Most local tax collectors have a tool on their website to estimate what you will pay if you buy the property.
You must apply for the homestead exemption on your new home even if you had it on your prior home.
You may also have to pay transfer taxes at the time of purchase including the intangible tax and documentary stamp tax.
How do you look up a home’s appraisal or just value?
Nearly all county tax collectors have a public website where you can look up a home’s just value and tax history. These numbers are generally accurate. It’s the assessed value and property tax bill that usually change the most when a home is sold.
When are Florida property taxes due?
Florida property tax bills are typically sent on November 1st and late on April 1st. There are typically discounts according to the month you pay.
- November: 4%
- December: 3%
- January: 2%
- February: 1%
- March: 0%
If you don’t pay your taxes by April 1st, a 3% penalty applies. If you don’t pay your taxes by April 30th, the tax collector may sell a tax certificate on your home.
A tax certificate is a tax lien. After two years, the tax certificate holder may file for a tax deed application.
The certificate holder doesn’t receive the deed for your home, but your home is put up for auction. The proceeds from the tax certificate sale first going to pay off any delinquent taxes plus interest to the tax certificate holder.
The property owner gets any remaining amount after administrative expenses are deducted by the county.
You may be able to avoid a tax lien by using the Homestead tax deferral, an installment payment plan, or other options available in your county. Contact your local tax collector for details. You’ll generally have more options if you reach out before your taxes are due.
Where can you find your property tax bill?
The tax collector typically mails your property tax bill to the property address unless you provided another mailing address. Most tax collectors make property tax bills and payment histories publicly available online.
You should also get a TRIM Notice in August. A TRIM Notice isn’t your bill, but it contains your estimated property taxes and other legal inforrmation.
Your bills and notices normally come automatically without you having to file a property tax return.
Can you pay your property taxes online?
Most tax collectors have an online payments system. Convenience fees may apply.
How does the tax deed sale process work?
On or around June 1st, the tax collector holds a tax certificate sale for any property taxes that remain unpaid. Tax certificates are property tax liens.
One important right that tax certificate holders have is to request a property tax lien sale if the property taxes are delinquent by two or more years. This is at the investor’s option, and they may wait longer.
The certificate holder does not have the right to take the deed to the house. Instead, a public auction is held.
The property is sold to the highest bidder in the tax certificate sale auction. The proceeds go to:
- The tax lien certificate holder to cover what they paid for the certificate plus interest
- The local government for any administrative charges
- Paying off a mortgage or other liens on the home
- The property owner for any remaining amount
One important disadvantage to allowing your home to go to a tax deed sale is that it will often be sold for less than the market value you could receive in a normal real estate sale.
What should you do if you didn’t pay your real estate taxes on time?
If you missed the deadline to pay your property taxes, it’s usually best to pay as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more you’ll have to pay.
In some counties, you may be able to get placed on a payment agreement by contacting your tax collector. Your eligibility may depend on how soon you apply, so don’t wait until you have a tax lien sale or tax auction on your home.
A private loan may also be an option depending on your credit.
What if you know you can’t pay your property taxes?
If you know you can’t pay your property taxes, you may be able to defer them.
With a property tax deferral, property taxes continue to accrue, and you’ll also owe interest. You won’t face a tax certificate sale or auction as long as you continue to qualify for the deferral.
In order to qualify for a Florida Property Tax Deferral, you need to meet one of the following criteria.
- Household AGI under $10,000
- Property taxes greater than 5% of your AGI
- Property taxes greater than 3% of your AGI if age 65+
- You qualify for a senior exemption
Additionally, the deferred taxes and interest can’t exceed more than 85% of your home’s value. You also can’t owe more than 70% of your home’s value on your mortgage.
You must apply for the deferral by the original property tax deadline (March 31st), or you may not be eligible.
What if you disagree with the property taxes you were charged?
You should generally resolve disputes over your property tax bill well in advance of the payment deadline.
The best option is generally to respond to your TRIM notice in August.
If you didn’t appeal or are still appealing, the easiest option is to pay in full according to your property tax bill and request a refund after your appeal. Otherwise, you may need to reach a payment agreement with your tax collector to avoid your taxes being considered delinquent.
See also: Florida Statues Chapter 197 especially 197.4XX and 197.5XX.
Florida TRIM Notice
TRIM stands for TRuth In Millage. The notice gives property owners information about how much they’ll owe in property taxes and each government entity that charges property tax.
Each county, municipality, school district, water management district, and any other government agency generally needs to have a public meeting to determine its budget and set property tax rates. The TRIM notice gives property owners a way to know who is taxing them so they can attend these meetings.
You should generally receive a TRIM letter in August each year. The TRIM notice is not a bill, and you should not pay it. You’ll receive a formal property tax bill around November 1st.
What’s on a TRIM Notice?
A TRIM notice contains several key pieces of information.
First, it shows several property values.
- Market value: The market value is the value of your home if you sold it on the market. Note that the property appraiser often calculates values differently than home buying websites.
- Assessed value: The assessed value is the market value of your home limited by your Save Our Homes Benefit or non-homestead property tax limits in increases of your assessed value. For example, you might have a market value of $100,000 in year 1 and $110,000 in year 2. In year 1, assessed value equals market value. In year 2, if you have the Homestead Exemption, your assessed value is limited to $103,000, because there is a 3% limit on increases.
- Taxable value: The taxable value is the value you pay taxes on after subtracting your exemptions. There are multiple taxable values because different exemptions apply to different taxes. For example, your school district taxable value will usually be $25,000 higher than your general county taxable value, because the second Homestead Exemption doesn’t apply to school district taxes.
As discussed above, it also gives you information about who is taxing you in case you want to attend public meetings.
Finally, it shows your estimated property tax bill for the year. This will include both ad valorem (percent of value) taxes and non-ad valorem (fixed amount) taxes.
When is your home’s value determined?
The values on your TRIM notice are based on January 1st before you receive your notice. So your timeline is usually:
- January 1st: Property values determined
- August: Receive TRIM notice
- November 1st: First day to pay property taxes, bill received around this time
- March 31st (following year): Property taxes due
The January 1st date becomes more important when property values rapidly rise or fall during the year. If you’re thinking about contesting your market value because of recent changes in property values, you need to think back to what would have been reasonable in January.
Do you have to respond to a TRIM Notice?
When you receive a real estate TRIM notice, you should carefully check it for accuracy. Make sure the county property appraiser has properly applied all of your exemptions.
You may also want to see if the market value the property appraiser assigned your home seems reasonable.
If you notice an error or disagree with your home’s value, you generally contact the property appraiser first. If you can’t resolve the situation, the next step is usually to appeal to the county value adjustment board.
You generally have 25 days from the date on your TRIM notice to file an appeal with the value adjustment board. If you received your notice late or have some other type of special situation, contact your property appraiser or value adjustment board for your potential options.
Should you fight a low market value?
In some cases, you may want to contest a low market value on a Homestead home that you’ve owned for some time. The reason is to increase your Save Our Homes benefit if you ever want to sell your home and use portability.
Let’s say you bought a home for $100,000, it increased in market value to $150,000, and Save Our Homes limits its assessed value to $125,000. The difference between market value ($150,000) and assessed value ($125,000) is your Save Our Homes Benefit ($25,000). If you move to a new home and apply the Homestead Exemption, you get to take your $25,000 benefit with you and subtract it from your home’s market value in year 1.
But what if you think the market value of your home should be $175,000 instead of $150,000? If you moved, that could give you a portability benefit of $50,000 instead of $25,000. If you plan to keep the Homestead Exemption on your home until you move to a new homestead, you might want to ask the property appraiser to reconsider.
What can you do if you disagree with the assessed value of your home or your denial of the Homestead Exemption or other special classifications?
Each county has a Value Adjustment Board that handles appeals of assessed values and other property tax issues (other than non-payment). The typical process is to send a written complaint and then attend a hearing.
Contact your local Value Adjustment Board for their procedures. If your Value Adjustment Board doesn’t have a website or you can’t find their information, contact the Clerk of Court for your county.