Property Tax Discounts for the Elderly and Disabled in Florida

Elder Law
Jason Neufeld
December 23, 2021

As an elder law attorney who focuses on Medicaid Planning, my goal is to provide our clients with resources that they didn’t know that they had access to (or could access with some planning).  

The purpose of this article is to explain some ways to find hidden savings in your real estate – by making sure you have all the Florida property tax discounts and Florida property tax exemptions you can qualify for.

Florida Homestead Property Tax Exemption

The Florida real estate homestead tax exemption is, by far, the most popular and common way to reduce your property tax bill. This property tax exemption is not limited to the elderly or disabled, but its worth mentioning in this article due to its importance. Also, the other potential discounts are all for Floridians with this initial homestead exemption.

Essentially, if you own your primary residence, and it is worth $75,000.00 or more, you are entitled to a homestead exemption of $50,000.00 for the year if you were living at the subject residence as of January 1st of that calendar year.

You will be asked for a Florida Drivers License (or Florida State ID) that reflects the property address (you can do this with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, online here).

  • Your county's property tax appraiser may also ask for proof that you have given up another state's drivers license, Florida voter registration ID, Declaration of Domicile and Residency, address listed on your last IRS tax return, proof of payment of utilities at homestead address or other proof of residency.

If you are moving from one Florida homestead to a new Florida homestead, make sure to take advantage of the Save Our Homes / Portability to minimize increase in assessed values (see link to the "Save Our Homes" brochure in the resources section below).

Additional Homestead Exemption for Low Income Seniors Age 65+

A lesser-known additional homestead exemption will allow an ADDITIONAL $25,000.00 - $50,000.00 to be deducted from the property's assessed/taxable value. In order to qualify for this additional homestead exemption, you must first qualify for the first homestead exemption discussed above. Then you have to be age 65 or older. Finally, you have to meet the "low income" threshold.

It is important to note that not all Florida counties have to offer this additional exemption. It is a county-by-county decision. Please call your county's property appraiser office to find out if they offer this additional exemption, and ask about the income limitation.

What is the Senior Citizen Income Limitation for this Additional Homestead Exemption?

As of 2021, the income limitation is $31,100.00 (meaning you cannot qualify for this additional homestead exemption for seniors, if your adjusted gross income exceeds this amount). The income limitation increases each year with the change in the average cost of living index (again, call the property appraiser's office to ask what the number is for the year you are reading this article!).

The Florida county, if participating, will ask for all household members and the household's adjusted gross income. Whoever files income taxes, will need to include their tax return, copy of their SSA statement (if applicable), and Florida Department of Revenue Form: DR-501SC (link below in Resources Section).

You will be asked to prove your low-income every year. This additional low-income senior citizen homestead exemption has to be reapplied for every year.

Additional Property Tax Benefits for the Elderly or Disabled

Homestead Assessment Reduction for Building Living Quarters for Parents or Grandparents

If you own a homestead and build a properly permitted addition or engage in extensive renovations to provide living quarters for a parent or grandparent, you can apply for a special exemption equal to the cost of the new construction (up to 20% of the homestead value). Permits, certificate of occupancy and plans must be submitted to the county property appraiser's office, including Form DR-501PGP (link to form below).

The parent or grandparent moving in must be at least 62 years old.

Homestead Exemption for Widows and Widowers

An additional $500.00 can be exempted from a homestead's taxable value for people who are widows or widowers. Per F.S. 196.202, this exemption can not duplicate the $500.00 exemption due for those who are blind or totally disabled (discussed below).

Homestead Exemption for Quadriplegic Persons

Homesteaded real estate owned by a quadriplegic person will be exempt from all ad-valorem taxation (taxes based on real estate value). They will still pay local non ad-valorem taxes (e.g. taxes that go toward paying for solid waste collection, storm water, etc...)

Homestead Exemption for Paraplegic, Hemiplegic or other Totally and Permanently Disabled Person

Paraplegic, hemiplegic and totally disabled persons (who are not quadriplegic) can also be deemed exempt from all ad-valorem taxation if they meet the adjusted gross income limitations.

Anyone filing for the additional homestead exemption must get a certificate of total disability from two Florida-licensed doctors, using Form DR-416 (see link to form in resources section below).

Homestead Exemption for Blind or Totally Disabled Person

An additional $500.00 can be exempted from a homestead's taxable value for people who are legally blind, totally and permanently disabled (without any income verification or limitation). They will, however, need to prove disability or blindness with a physician statement. DR-416 or DR-416B.

Other Available Property Tax Discounts or Exemptions

Homestead Exemption for Surviving Spouse of First Responder

A first responder includes: police officer, firefighter, paramedic, or correctional officer who is employed by the state or local government.

If a first responder becomes totally and permanently disabled in the line of duty, or their surviving spouse, is completely exempt from ad-valorem taxation.

If a first responder, who passes away in the line of duty, was a permanent Florida resident on January 1st of their death and owned a homestead, their surviving spouse (if they do not re-marry) is completely exempt from ad-valorem taxation.

Property Tax Exemptions and Discounts for US Veterans

An active duty veteran, deployed last year outside of the United States, can fill out Form DR-501M to qualify for an additional ad valorem exemption on their homestead.

An honorably-discharged US Veteran, or their surviving spouse, who owns a homestead in Florida, is entitled to a $5,000.00 reduction in their homestead's assessed value if they had/have a 10% or greater disability rating incurred during a wartime period.

A veteran, age 65 or older, who became disabled during a wartime period, can reduce their property's assessed value by the same percentage as their disability rating (even if above $5,000.00).

If the veteran, or their surviving spouse, who has/had a total disability (or confined to a wheelchair) in the line of duty, and honorably discharged, they can apply for and receive a total exemption from ad-valorem property taxes on their homestead.

The surviving spouse of a veteran who died while on active duty can receive a total exemption from ad-valorem property taxes.

PROPERTY TAX ASSESSMENT RESOURCES

  1. How to apply for different Florida property-tax exemptions: Apply for Property Tax Exemptions with Form DR-501. Each county will likely have a way to do this online. You may want to call your county's property appraiser's office (they are actually very helpful).
  2. If applying for the additional homestead property tax exemption for low-income seniors, must submit Form DR-501 and Form DR-501SC (Household Income Sworn Statement and Return).
  3. Property Tax Information for First-Time Florida Homebuyers.
  4. Save Our Homes / Portability Transfer: Brochure for Floridians moving from previous Florida homestead to a new homestead in Florida.
  5. Form DR-416: Physician's Certification of Total and Permanent Disability.
  6. Form DR-501PGP: Application for Assessment Reduction for Parent/Grandparent Living Quarters.

Jason Neufeld
Jason is committed to assisting and protecting the most vulnerable members of society, through his substantial legal work with the elderly.