Florida property taxes are the primary source of revenue for local governments. In 2010, Florida lawmakers made only slight changes to how those taxes are collected, compared to sweeping reform made just a few years before in response to the economic crisis that rocked the state.
Homestead Exemption Laws
Two laws enacted in 2010 made changes to properties with a homestead exemption, which gives homeowners a $50,000 assessment reduction on the property in which they live.
Homesteaded properties that have been damaged in a misfortune or calamity will lose their exemption status if the property is not repaired and if the building permit to make the repairs expires or lapses three years, pursuant to HB 663.
Another 2010 law, HB 7129, clarifies that valid military deployment orders are sufficient to maintain permanent residency for the homesteaded property of a service member and his spouse.
For Homes with Sulfur-Contaminated Drywall
A 2010 law allows property appraisers to adjust assessments for homes affected by drywall with elevated levels of sulfur. The law came after the discovery of drywall from China with high levels of sulfur that eroded metals within homes and caused health problems.
Pursuant to HB 965, if the property owner was unaware of the reactive drywall and the building is not marketable without improvements, the building on the property can be value at $0 until repaired. Also, if the owners of a homesteaded property are forced to leave while the repairs are made, the property will not be considered abandoned and will keep its homestead exemption status.
Payment of Back Taxes
Property owners with building or structure improvements that were not assessed do not have to pay back property taxes they would otherwise owe their local government if they voluntarily disclose the improvements, according to HB 1279. The disclosures have to take place before Jan. 1 of the year the property is assessed, and all improvements must have all the necessary permitting by the time of completion.
Tax Amnesty Program
The 2010 Florida Tax Amnesty program, established through HB 5801, provides amnesty from overlooked overdue taxes without penalty or interest, including some specific cases of property taxes.
Change in Property Ownership Laws
HB 927 requires the Department of Revenue to provide a change of ownership form and clarifies that a recorded deed will serve as notice of a change in ownership.
It also establishes that there effectively is no change of ownership if a homesteaded property is transferred between husband and wife or to the surviving spouse or a minor child or children. Similarly, a non-homesteaded property doesn't change ownership if more than 50 percent of it is publicly traded.
Elimination of State-Approved List for Services
The Department of Revenue is no longer authorized develop a list of contracted bidders approved to provide property assessment or tax collection services to property appraisers and tax collectors. The department also cannot set a standard contract for those services, according to HB 7157.
Economic Development Tax Exemption
SB 1752 allows local governments to extend economic development property tax relief--given to new businesses and expansions of existing businesses--every 10 years, if the extensions are approved in a citizen ballot referendum.
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