Did you recently buy a home in St Petersburg? Are you looking to buy a home in  St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island, Clearwater or one of the other beaches? Many people new to Florida or considering a move here have no idea that they may qualify for a $50,000 homestead exemption.

If you are considering a move the St. Petersburg area and are looking to buy a home or condo, you should know this: any person who holds title to real property as of January 1 in any year, and are bona fide Florida residents maintaining that property as their permanent and primary residence as of January 1, are eligible to receive a homestead exemption up to $50,000.

The exemption has two parts: The first $25,000 is deducted form the properties assessed value and applies to all taxes; The second $25,000, which is applied automatically if you qualify for the first, applies to the properties assessed value between $50,000 and $75,000, and applies to non-school taxes only.

The Florida Department of Revenue lists these points to consider before filing:

  • In whose name or names was the title to the dwelling recorded as of January 1?
  • What is the street address of the property?
  • How long have you been a legal resident of the State of Florida? (A Declaration of Domicile or Voter's Registration will be proof of date before January 1.)
  • Do you have a Florida license plate on your car and a Florida driver's license?
  • Were you living in the dwelling on January 1?

It should be mentioned that giving false information for the purpose of getting the exemption is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a $5,000 fine. So study those questions carefully!

Also of interest is the "Save Our Homes" program, which limits the increase in assessed value of the homesteaded property to the lower of either: 1) 3% of the assessed value for the property for the following year; or 2) the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index. This program has a portability feature that allows the transfer of the Save Our Home benefit to a new home.

For more information on these and other tax issues, please consult your tax professional.