What Is A Homestead Exemption?
Most types of real estate are subject to property taxes, including personal residences. Homestead examptions are special privileges offered by most counties in the United States to reduce property taxes on personal residences occupied by their owners, as well as offer additional protections against creditors and bankruptcy.
Many counties treat the homestead exemption as a fixed amount of the property's value which is exempt from taxation. For example, a $100,000 owner-occupied home located in a county with a $50,000 homestead exemption will only be taxes as if it's worth $50,000. As a result, homestead exemptions can significantly reduce the property tax owed on your home.
How do you claim a homestead exemption?
When the county tax assessor completes the property tax rolls each year, the homestead exemption is often automatically applied to all qualifying properties known to be occupied by their owners. Usually, this information will have been provided to the tax assessor when the deeds and titles for the property are transferred during closing of the property's last sale.
If you didn't provide the assessor proof of qualification for a homestead exemption (or if you are moving into a property you previously owned but didn't claim an exemption for), you can call your local tax assessor and request a homestead exemption application. Note that some states will not automatically provide you a homestead exemption, and in several of these states you must re-apply for the exemption every year.
What are the requirements for claiming a homestead exemption?
Homestead exemption requirements vary by state and county, but in order to qualify you generally must live in the property as your primary residence (vacation or rental properties don't qualify). You can only claim a homestead exemption for one property each year, no matter where the property is located. Depending on your locality, additional property tax exemptions may also be available for senior citizens, veterans, or low-income families.
For more information about your county's homestead exemption program, contact your local tax assessor's office. You can find the contact information for your local tax assessor in our tax assessor database.