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Florida grants a homestead exemption for people who owns the property and makes it her permanent residence (or the permanent residence of her dependent). The homestead exemption gives up to $50,000 in exempted property value for taxes. The first $25,000 is available for property taxes, school taxes, and district taxes. The second $25,000 is available for property values between $50,000 and $75,000 in assessed value (however it only applies to non-school taxes).

But the homestead exemption is not automatic. You must apply for the exemption using Form DR-501. If this is your first time applying for the exemption, you need to answer these questions.

  1. Whether you claim residency in another states or county.
  2. If you were living in the home as of January 1st, of this year.
  3. The names of the people who appear on the title.
  4. Finally, the social security number of you and your spouse (if applicable).

Additionally, you must substantiate your residency. To establish residency, the appraiser will ask you a series of questions to determine your residency. For instance, the appraiser may ask for:

  • A driver’s license;
  • Proof of surrendering out of state driver’s license;
  • Proof when and where previous out-of-state residency ended;
  • Florida vehicle license plate number;
  • Name of current employer;
  • Address on last IRS tax return;
  • Dependent children’s school location;
  • Bank statements with mailing address;
  • Utility payments with proof of residency; and
  • Florida voter registration.

If your homestead exemption application was denied, you might want to talk to an attorney for assistance. A lawyer can go over the evidence you submitted and help you prepare an appeal clarifying the gaps in your application to ensure it is approved on appeal. The homestead exemption can save you much money; you shouldn’t let an initial denial of your application stymie you. A lawyer can help you appeal the denial.