If you own a home, you have to deal with property tax. It's one of the main ways that local and state governments get income to provide citizens with public schooling, police protection, and other vital services.
Each homeowner pays an amount that depends on the value of his or her property and the local tax rate. To calculate your property tax, you'll need to know how authorities determine both of these figures.
Calculating Florida Property Tax - Your Home's Value
As of January 1 of each year, state-assigned property appraisers determine the market value of each property. The appraisers then subtract relevant land classification differentials, such as those related to agricultural or conservation lands. Finally, they take into account any exemptions due to the home or homeowner.
The Homestead Exemption
If your Florida home is your primary residence or the primary residence of your dependent, you receive a homestead exemption that entitles you to at least $25,000 and as much as $50,000 off of your property tax bill.
Save Our Homes Assessment Limitation
When you receive a homestead exemption, a property appraiser will assess the market value of your home. This number is known as the property's just value.
The first time that a homeowner claims a homestead exemption, he or she pays property taxes based on the just value appraisal. Each year following, the Save Our Homes (SOH) program prevents the home's value assessment from increasing by more than 3 percent.
Florida also offers special property tax exemptions for populations that it deems to be financially vulnerable. These populations include:
- military veterans and active duty service members
- persons with total and permanent disabilities
- senior citizens
The Florida Department of Revenue offers more information about these discounts as well as details regarding who might qualify.
House Taxes in Florida – Averages and Extremes
The average Florida property tax rate is 1.1 percent of the home's assessed value, slightly below the national average of 1.21 percent. However, the effective rates vary significantly by county.
Walton County, for example, has a property tax rate of just 0.55 percent, which means that the average resident pays just around $1,000 per year. At the other end of the scale, Hendry county's average tax rate is close to 1.4 percent, but annual tax payments are below $975. The highest annual payments happen in Monroe County, where the average resident pays upwards of $2,800 in taxes despite a tax rate of only 0.71 percent.
At the Local Level
Even the average rate per county can be only a vague estimate of what a person might owe, largely because so many other entities participate in levying property taxes. The county levies its own tax, but so does the city, the local school board, and other special districts. It falls to local officials to determine the millage, or tax rate, for those within its jurisdiction.
In all locations, State of Florida real estate taxes are limited by a government-imposed cap. The government also requires municipalities to publicize hearings that may affect tax rates and budgets that may impact property taxes.
What Will You Owe?
Although it may seem that everything about property taxation is out of your control, you do have government-enforced protections when it comes to your home's individual value.
Every August, property appraisers send out Notices of Proposed Property Taxes (TRIM) notices to the owners of each assessed property. These notices also include the millage rates that the local municipality has imposed.
Although you have the right to attend the budget hearings that confirm the millage rates, you as an individual citizen cannot formally dispute those amounts. You can, however, appeal your property value assessment in a hearing before your county's Value Adjustment Board.
Calculating Your Property Tax
If you want to calculate your property taxes before you receive a formal bill, you can do so either manually or using an online estimator.
To determine your own property tax, you will need to know your home's:
- just value,
- assessment limits,
- exemptions, and
- millage (tax rates or mill rates).
You may have different mill rates for school taxes and non-school taxes, just as you may have exemptions that only apply to non-school taxes. Once you have all of the data specific to your home, you can:
- Subtract your assessment limits from your just value to get your assessed value
- Subtract any exemptions from your assessed value. This gives you your home's taxable value. (Remember, you may have to do this once for school taxes and once for non-school taxes.)
- Multiply your taxable value by your millage, once for school taxes and once for non-school taxes, to get your total tax liability.
If you don't want to go through the process of calculating all of your home's relevant data, you can use an online calculation tool to determine what you will owe in property taxes. You will still need to know the assessed value of your home, as well as basic location information. Some ask for zip code; others request the name of your county. The calculator will determine what taxes apply to your location.
Can't Pay Your Property Tax?
Theoretically, because property tax is based on your home's value, your tax liability should be within your budget. In reality, however, it doesn't always work out that way. Between purchasing a home and the levying of property taxes in a given year, you may have taken on financial obligations that tap your resources.
If you've calculated your property taxes and find that it's out of your budget, you may think that the only thing left to do is move. You may be able to reduce your property tax bill by relocating elsewhere, but the process of moving costs money.
Sell and Stay
EasyKnock has a solution. It's called Sell and Stay, and as the name suggests, it lets you sell your home and hand off property taxes without having to move. Instead, you stay in your home as a tenant. You can continue to pay rent to EasyKnock until you buy back your home or decide to move.
The application process is simple and straightforward. If property taxes are becoming a burden, contact EasyKnock to find out how you can let that burden go.