What’s New?
New Benefits for Veterans, Surviving Spouses, and Seniors On November 6, 2012, a supermajority of Florida Voters adopted three of the 11 Constitutional Amendments on the ballot. And all three offer or enhance benefits to specific groups of permanent Florida residents who own real property in the state. Amendment 2: This amendment expands the homestead property tax discount of disabled veterans over the age of 65 with combat related injuries, regardless of where they were living when they entered the military. Up until now, this benefit has only been available to veterans who were Florida residents at the time they entered the military. The amount of the discount is tied to the percentage of the veteran's permanent, service connected disability that is combat related. This may not be the total amount of their disability rating. The applicant needs to present a letter from the Department of Veterans Affairs stating the percentage of the veteran's service-connected disability, evidence that reasonably indentifies the disability as combat related, and a copy of the veteran's honorable discharge. Amendment 9: This amendment expands the total exemption for ad valorem taxes previously available to the surviving spouse of service members who died from service connected causes while on active duty to the surviving spouses of first responders who died in the line of duty. First responders are defined as: Law Enforcement Officers Correctional Officers Firefighters Emergency Medical Technicians Paramedics Active duty for first responders is defined as: Engaging in law enforcement Activity relating to fire suppression and prevention Responding to a hazardous material emergency Performing rescue activity Providing emergency medical services Performing disaster relief activity Engaging in emergency response activity Engaging in a employer authorized training exercise related to any of the events enumerated. The benefits of this amendment apply to the surviving spouses of first responders whose death occurs before, on or after January 1, 2013. The exemption is not retroactive to prior tax years. Amendment 11: This amendment creates a new level of Income Qualified Senior Exemption for persons 65 or older who have made their property their permanent residence for at least 25 years. The homestead property must have an assessed value of less than $250,000 and the applicant must meet the annual income requirements as published in January by the Department of Revenue. This is a local option exemption. The County and the municipalities must pass ordinances if they choose to implement this exemption. Our office is waiting on instruction, rules and revised forms from the Department of Revenue for all three amendments. If you or someone you know may qualify for any of these new benefits contact our office. We will gather as much information as we can from each applicant in anticipation of receiving guidelines and forms.
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