Q: Can you give us some information about Save Our Homes?
A: This is actually Amendment 5 to the Florida Constitution, passed in 1995 and it’s the part of homestead exemption that is most misunderstood by homeowners. It puts a 3 percent cap on the amount that the tax assessed value can go up any given year on homesteaded property. Actually, the cap is the lesser of 3 percent or the year’s cost of living index. During my term in office, the cap has been the cost of living index, since it’s been significantly less than 3 percent (approximately 1 to 1.25 percent).
Q: Why is this important?
A: Save Our Homes is particularly important in St. Johns County, where values have gone up more than 40 percent in recent years. Year to date 2021, values are up about 8.5 percent, but your tax assessed value of your homesteaded property will still only go up by the lesser of 3 percent or the cost of living index.
Q: Can you tell us about portability?
A: The difference between the increase in the Just Market Value and the cap is the portability amount on your home. You do not pay taxes on this and it can continue to go up each year (it can also go down if values decline).
Q: Why is portability important?
A: If you relinquish your homesteaded property for any reason, you have three years to take your portability with you to a new homesteaded property. There are a couple of caveats: first, the most portability you can take is $500,000. Secondly, if your new homestead is equal to or greater than the value of your relinquished property, you can take 100 percent of the portability (up to the $500,000 maximum). If the new property is less, you can take a pro-rata share of the portability with you.
Q: What is your recommendation for homeowners?
A: Because St. Johns County today is in a very hot real estate market, with values going up dramatically and houses staying on the market for less than a week, it’s important for homeowners to check our website and look at their TRIM notices to make sure they are accurate. Don’t wait until it’s time to sell your home; you want to make sure you get the portability you are entitled to.
Lately, a number of businesses have sprung up to help people get their maximum portability … for a fee. There is really no need to hire a third party business, as your property appraiser’s office can do this for you at no charge. This is what we do and we are already paid for by your tax dollars. We are happy to help you.
Q: What is the best way for our readers to contact you?
A: Our office is located at 4030 Lewis Speedway Ste. 203, (904) 827-5500. It is open Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Also, readers can email me at Eddie@sjcpa.us or call me at (904) 827-5500.