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Same-Sex Marriage and the Florida Homestead Property Tax Exemption

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Home and marriage almost always go hand-in-hand, even when taxes are concerned. All legally married couples enjoy benefits when they own a property, namely the unique legal status of Tenants By The Entirety (TBTE), which is granted automatically when they become Grantees of a deed. The recent Supreme Court ruling means that same-sex couples will also be able to apply for this status.

TBTE gives each spouse overlapping 100 percent interests in 1) their Homestead Property Tax Exemption and 2) rights of inheritance by the surviving spouse. The TBTE does not automatically apply when married, but rather any property purchased together while married is assumed TBTE. Thus, you will need a new deed changing ownership of property owned before marriage for Public Record.

Note that married couples in Florida are permitted only one Homestead Property Tax Exemption; prior to January 6, same-sex couples married outside of Florida could maintain up to two permanent residency-based property tax exemptions, since their legal status was not recognized in the state. Now the limitation to one Florida Homestead Exemption applies to same-sex couples as in any married couple.

Moreover, this cannot be claimed if either spouse is claiming another permanent residency-based property tax exemption. Starting with the 2016 tax year, same-sex couples will not only lose their Florida Homestead Exemption, but will also be subject to back assessment liens, penalties, and interest if they are found to be taking residency-based property tax exemption elsewhere.

When receiving or applying for the Homestead Exemption, you are required to notify the Property Appraiser of any change in circumstance that will affect your eligibility. It is crucial married couples take the time to determine which Homestead Exemption / permanent residency-based exemptions they want to give up and then inform the Property Appraiser’s Office of the change.

With proven expertise in tax, probate, asset protection and estate planning, David Bauer is a South Florida Tax Lawyer who delivers custom wealth management solutions for individuals and corporations. He has represented clients in a broad range of tax matters, including international tax, FBAR and offshore voluntary disclosure, estate and gift tax, income tax structuring, mergers and acquisitions, corporate tax and IRS audits.

To learn more, contact one of the finest South Florida Law Firms, Bauer Brofsky Law Firm, at (305) 712-7979 or

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