Tax Portability: Transfering Your Tax Benefits from Your Old Homestead to Your New One

    By Gwinn Volen

    If you own a home in Florida, you more than likely have a property tax homestead exemption on it.  If you don’t please, please go do that right now! The property tax homestead exemption puts a 3% cap on annual property tax increases and allows you to get a $50,000 exemption off your property assessed value. Only caveats are, a) you need to occupy your home in Florida for 6 months out of the year to gain this benefit, and b) you must file for homestead exemption no later than March 1.  Here’s an article about Florida homesteading if you are unfamiliar.

    When Selling a Home, You Can Transfer Your Homestead Savings

    What many current homeowners don’t know is that when buying a new home, you may be able to port some of your homestead savings from your existing property to your new property.  This is called Homestead Portability. The St Johns County Property Appraisers website has a very helpful visual to help you understand. See below diagram on how it works.

     

    St Johns County Real Estate Taxes
    Tax Portability in Florida

    You also need to know that when you go to sell your home, you should take a look at your home’s market/just value on your tax bill.  You want to make sure the total market/just value is as close to the real market value as possible. Many home sellers learn of this too late.

    Low Market Value At Selling = Less Tax Portability. You Want Portability. Read On…

    The property appraisers office doesn’t necessarily keep pace with total market/just value, particularly if the property has been under the same ownership for a long time and has had a long-time homestead exemption. While that’s wonderful when you live there, when you go to sell, you really want the highest market/just value you can get in order to get the maximum homestead portability savings (look at above diagram again).

    The new owners of your home shouldn’t care about your just/market or assessed values, as their property taxes are going to be based on their purchase price anyway. However, you stand to gain quite a bit from the higher market value as illustrated.

    If you see a large discrepancy in the market/just value on your tax bill from real market value, reach out to the property appraisers office in your county.

    Getting the proper value may take some legwork and require a few phone calls, but it is worth it if you like to save on taxes. If you hit a roadblock, there are some savvy real estate attorneys who can help for a small fee.

    Don’t Forget to Mention Portability When File For Your New Homestead

    Once you purchase your new home, when you go to file for homestead, don’t forget to ask for portability.  You usually aren’t prompted, so it’s important to stay on top of this!

    For information regarding your property taxes in St Johns County, call the Property Appraisers office (904) 827-5500 or customerservice@sjcpa.us. They answer the phone and are very helpful.

    For Duval County, call (904) 630-2020 or email pacustserv@coj.net. The Duval County website has the forms online.

    This all assumes, of course, that you have a good real estate agent, are pricing your home smartly and getting it sold before new tax bills come out.  Stay on top of this too.

    For real estate questions, feel free to contact me at 904-314-5188 or gwinnvolen@gmail.com.

    About the Author: Gwinn Volen is a real estate agent at Ponte Vedra Club Realty.

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