Got Florida Real Estate Tax Bill?
If you live in St Petersburg, Florida just like me you have probably received your real estate tax bill. You either have it escrowed and paid by your lender, who then breaks it down and adds to your monthly mortgage payments, or you pay one lump sum.
HOW IS FLORIDA PROPERTY TAX CALCULATED?
Florida property tax is calculated based on the assessed value of your property and the millage rate. 1 mill represents $1 of tax assessment per each $1,000 of assessed value of your home. Surprisingly, in the same county different municipalities may have different millage rates. I’ve seen them anywhere from 17 to 25 mills. If your home is assessed at $200,000 – you will pay $4,000 annual property tax based on a 20 mill rate.
ARE THERE EXEMPTIONS?
If you claim your property as a primary residence, you will qualify for a homestead exemption, which is currently at $50,000. In the example above, at $200,000 value, you will pay property taxes only on $150,000 and your tax will be lower by about one forth. So, when you buy a new house, don’t forget to apply for a Homestead, in fact, ask the title agent to help you with this. You’ll be glad you did. There are also additional exemptions for widows, blind, veterans and other groups (check on MyFlorida.com). There are also exemption limitations for certain home value ranges.
WHEN DO I PAY MY TAXES?
In Florida we pay our property taxes in arrears. Meaning you just received you tax bill for 2011, not for 2012. You have 5 months to pay till March 31. If you don’t delay and pay now, you get a little discount, not much, but worth paying it early.
IF I BOUGHT MY HOUSE MID YEAR, DO I STILL PAY A FULL YEAR PROPERTY TAX?
Yes. The real estate tax bill is for the whole year and you have to pay it in full. However, it seems unfair to pay the full amount if you didn’t buy your home on January 1st but somewhere in the middle or especially towards the end of the year, right? Well, that’s why at closing a certain amount was prorated and credited to you by the seller. That was tax money for the months you didn’t own the property. Hopefully, you put that money aside in order to add to the full year property tax payment.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON’T PAY MY PROPERY TAX?
In Florida if you don’t pay your property tax by March 31st of the following year, it’s deemed delinquent and interest is applied. A Tax Certificate to your property will be sold to a private party by June 1st and it will be a first lien (most important, even before your mortgage) on your home. You can buy it back but with a hefty interest. If for two more years you don’t pay your property tax, your home will be auctioned off by the county at the Tax Deed Sale.
This is just a brief overview. For exact millage rates and property tax regulation please refer to your county tax collector’s site.
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