Does Florida’s property tax law penalize Canadians?
The answer to the question is a firm “NO” – although it seems on first glance as if the Canadian Homeowners are getting a “special property tax treatment”. Obviously, they are paying more than the average “Floridian”, right? Well, the fact is that all Foreign National homeowners and all US Snowbirds with a secondary home are treated alike in the Sunshine State – with no exception and no special treatment whatsoever.
However, one group of homeowners is actually getting the “royal treatment”. There is a section in Florida’s tax law, which is in favor of the people who enjoy year round swimming, golfing, and fishing in the subtropical environment, and they are even paying less property tax on top of all the other goodies. How unfair!
Well, in order to attract more residents the Sunshine State is pampering homeowners who choose to use their Florida home as their primary residence. The lucky ones can file for homestead exemption and can save a bit of money. This exemption knocks off $50,000 from the assessed value of their Florida home, and, also, it puts a cap on possible tax increases (every year). 3% is the most the property tax of a homesteaded house can go up; homeowners with a secondary home in Florida are out of luck for this one.
Can Canadians or other Foreign Nationals file for Homestead Exemption? Yes, they can – but unfortunately they won’t get it! Without a valid visa (work-/investor-/ or other visa they are not allowed to live in Florida permanently. Therefore, their home can never be their primary residence. That is the rule! American Snowbirds are facing a different dilemma: only one home can be the primary residence, either the one up north or the one in Florida. However, at least they have a choice.
This blog is not meant to be legal advice. For more info please contact an attorney or tax adviser. Canadian citizens need to know about the consequences of a prolonged absence as well. If they are out of country for a certain time frame they may jeopardize their health care benefits/social security.