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Taxpayers will have to file for new benefits

By Alison Markham, Broker-Associate, GRI, Realtor® | February 25, 2008

Taxpayers will have to file for new benefits


By Jim Hunter

Homeowners currently receiving the homestead exemption will not have to do anything to receive the benefits of the new, second $25,000 homestead property tax exemption that passed in Amendment 1 on Jan. 29.

The $25,000 tangible property tax exemption, however, will require the filing of forms by April 1 of this year.

Existing homesteads

Current homesteaded property owners will automatically be credited with the new exemption for 2008 (Remember, taxes are paid at the beginning of the year for the previous year). The owners should remember, however, that the exemption is on the third $25,000 of assessed taxable value, which means about 11,500 homesteads in the county, assessed at less than $50,000, won’t qualify for the new exemption.

They should also be aware the school board portion of homeowners’ property tax bills are not subject to the new $25,000 exemption, and the school board taxes are approaching half of the property tax bill in Citrus County. That means the taxpayers won’t see a full double exemption with the new $25,000.

The average homesteaded taxpayer likely will see from $240 to $250 in savings, but the amount will vary with the assessed value. Taxpayers also should be aware that the state has set the Save Our Homes cap increase at the full 3 percent for tax year 2008, so they will see that increase in assessed value, according to Citrus Property Appraiser Melanie Hensley.

Further, it has been pointed out by many, Amendment 1 does not prohibit the local government from raising the millage rate. The county and cities soon will begin developing their

budgets and millages for 2009 and will finalize them in September.

Save Our Homes portability

A second benefit for homesteaded property owners that passed in Amendment 1 was the portability of the Save Our Homes tax cap. The Save Our Homes provision has allowed home-steaded owners to enjoy protection against increased assessments, holding them to the cost of living index and no more than 3 percent, something which has helped millions keep their taxes down as property values soared between 2004-06, resulting in higher assessments.

The portability element of Amendment 1 will allow homesteaded owners to take their ac-cumulated protection with them when they sell their home, to a new homestead. They can transfer up to $500,000 of assessed value protection. If the assessed value is different from that of their former home, the protection is transferred proportionally.

Homesteaders who sold in 2007 and bought another home in 2007 they are using as their primary residence ? and which they occupied by Jan. 1, 2008 ? can apply for the portability protection for tax year 2008. They must apply for a new homestead exemption and with the appropriate portability form, however, by March 1, 2008, which is the deadline for homestead filing.

If they had bought a new home in 2007 and had already applied for their new homestead exemption for 2008 before the passage of Amendment 1, they must reapply for the homestead with portability protection.

For those moving to or from Citrus, there is also a form available at the property appraiser’s office or on a state Web site that must be used if the new home is in different county from the old home.

Hensley stressed that homeowners in doubt of their status should contact her office be-fore the deadline, which isn’t flexible and could make the difference of them getting the exemption for 2008.

As for those who have sold their homestead in 2007 or 2008 or who are planning on selling this year, if they buy another home in 2008, occupy it in that year and apply for homestead by March 1, 2009, they will be eligible for the portability of their accumulated protection, starting in the 2009 tax year.

Going forward, the tax cap benefit will be available to those who sell their home and buy another within two years.

Tangible Tax exemption

In Florida, businesses pay a tangible tax on the equipment they use in their operations and stores (mobile home owners also pay on attachments to their homes). The new $25,000 tangible tax exemption will be available to them for the 2008 tax year, but the taxpayers must file the appropriate form with the Property Tax Appraiser’s office by April 1, 2008.

The portability form was still in draft form at the Florida Department of Revenue last week, but was expected to be finalized by Monday, and available on that agency’s Web site or at Citrus County Property Tax Appraiser’s office in Inverness or Crystal River. It can be viewed at the site where it will be available online at: dor.myflorida.com.

Non-homestead tax cap

Amendment 1 set a 10 percent tax assessment increase cap for non-homesteaded property, and the taxpayer must apply for it, but it does not take effect until tax year 2009. That means it will not apply to tax year 2008, and so taxpayers won’t need to apply for the current tax year.

Hensley said she does not see any tax increases on non-homestead properties being as high as 10 percent for the current tax year, and so the benefit would not be of use in Citrus County for 2008 anyway.

Going forward, however, taxpayers who want the protection of the cap for 2009 and after that will have to apply. Because state officials have been concentrating on the 2008 issues, the forms have not been developed and deadlines for filing them have not yet been set.

Info on the Web

There is a large amount of supporting material on the state’s Department of Revenue (DOR) Web site about the tax exemptions at: dor.myflorida.com.

There is also an explanation on the Citrus County Property Appraisers office Web site, www.pa.citrus.fl.us. The forms will be available at the Inverness or Crystal River property appraisers office or on the DOR Web site.

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