Tuesday, November 7

Trying to Understand Jacksonville's House Tax Exemptions

So we own a house. We filled out the form to ask for the Homestead Exemptions, which basically seem to reduce the taxable amount of the house by $25,000 to start (as long as it's our primary residence). That's cool. But there are some other exemptions (and taxes) that take a bit more to understand, particularly if you're new to Jax.

We seem to have two more exemptions on the house right now, based on what the previous owners were allowed. The secondary Homestead Exemption, which is based on assessed value. We get another $25,000 for that one, but it comes with a caveat: it's not good on schools. So our taxable value on schools is $25,000 more than for city government. I guess I can throw some extra cash at the Duval Public Schools, but it's just kind of odd.

Our next exemption is for military disability. Apparently, we get it for this year, but that $5000 will go away for next year, unless I join up and get hurt very soon. Actually, if I was even allowed to join at my age, I would be guaranteed to get hurt. Anyhow, that's $5000 less for next year's savings.

In addition, when a house sells, it's supposedly assessed based on market value for the next year. Since the folks who lived in this house used the Homestead Exemption and lived here for over a decade, that means the assessed value could not go up along with the true market value. If the city uses current market value on the website, our assessed value will only go up about $5,000. However, if the city starts over and takes either our sale price, appraisal, or fair market value for a house that hadn't been neglected by previous owners, then we're in trouble. Basically, we will lose $5,000 in exemptions while our assessed value could go up between $5000 and $40,000. That could mean an increase in taxes of about $500. [update] I just called the appraiser's office, and he confirmed that our fair market value WILL be based on sale price and similar properties, meaning an increase in assessed value of around $40,000 in a single year.

The takeaway is this: be careful if you are purchasing a house in Jacksonville that has been owned by the same people for a long time, at least when it comes to taxes. Those people were locked in at 3% or lower increases in value, they may have more exemptions than you, and the price you pay will affect the new taxable value of the property.

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