Let’s talk about homeowners saving money. As the Hillsborough County Real Estate Appraiser, my office is responsible for appraising the values of over 420,000 residential lots in Hillsborough County. To accomplish this statutory obligation, fortunately, I have an amazing staff who pride themselves on providing fair and equitable assessments. Additionally, my team strives to be transparent in their duties and provide exceptional customer service in the process.
In the mid-1990s, as home values rose dramatically across the state of Florida, it was widely recognized that many homeowners were being squeezed out of their properties due to rising assessments and, subsequently, taxes. increasingly higher. In response, the “Save Our Homes” amendment was approved by voters and added to the state constitution. This amendment imposes a limit of 3%, or the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index – whichever is lower – on any annual increase in the assessment of homesteads in Florida. This Homestead Exemption saves homeowners millions of dollars in property taxes in Hillsborough County, as well as statewide.
Once again, the current real estate market in the Tampa Bay area is hot and we expect a historic rise in property values. If you own a home on the local market and use Zillow, Trulia, or any number of real estate apps, you know that your home’s value has probably increased dramatically over the past year. However, unlike the 1990s, the Save Our Homes Amendment cap is already in place and the ability to cap your assessment at 3% for tax purposes will save Tampa Bay homeowners a significant amount of money.
It is important to understand that our office is not responsible for raising or lowering taxes. Ultimately, the taxing authorities (i.e. Hillsborough County, school district, city of Tampa, special districts, etc.) are responsible for setting the mileage rate each year. , and it is this tax rate that is used to calculate local property taxes.
Rather, Florida state real estate appraisers are required by law to appraise all properties in their county annually. In Hillsborough County, as well as all other counties in Florida, this means the real estate appraiser will determine the assessed value of hundreds of thousands of parcels, including residential, agricultural, multi-family, commercial and industrial properties and property body furniture.
In addition to appraising property, the real estate appraiser must also administer homestead exemptions, determine the eligibility of certain religious, charitable, educational and municipal properties for tax exemption, as well as administer widow’s exemptions, widower and disability.
When a homestead is sold, the Save Our Homes benefits received by the previous owner are removed and the assessed value reverts to market value. Therefore, it is very important that the new homeowner files a Homestead Application with our office (or the county real estate assessor’s office where they reside) to ensure that future assessed values do not increase further. 3% per year.
If you bought a home in 2021 and haven’t filed your Homestead Exemption, you still have time. And, if you’re one of the more than 211,000 people who moved to Florida last year and purchased a primary residence in the state, it’s not too late. Anyone who makes Florida their primary residence has until March 1 to apply for the Homestead Exemption. But be aware that you will need to show proof of permanent residency with a driver’s license or Florida ID card, vehicle registration, voter registration, or permanent resident alien card.
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I urge you to act quickly. March 1 is the legal deadline to file a homestead exemption application with our office. However, we will review and process late-filed requests for a period of time thereafter, as permitted by law. Protect your wallet with the 3% homeownership exemption cap. With the sharp rise in home values, it is more important than ever to apply for a Homestead exemption for your residence. To apply online, visit our website at HCPAFL.org.
Bob Henriquez is the Hillsborough County real estate appraiser.