June 19, 2022

Tax Benefits for Florida Home Buyers and Owners

Tax Benefits for Florida Home Buyers and Owners

Disclosure: The facts provided in this article are for informational purposes only and are deemed accurate on the publish date. For more information, visit the Florida Revenue website at and the Florida Housing website at

Homeownership is an investment that offers various tax benefits to home buyers and homeowners. The benefits of living in Florida are attractive to many families, benefits that include zero personal income tax and various homeowner exemptions. When you itemize your annual tax deductions, Florida residents may be eligible for exemptions that help first-time homebuyers, primary residents, active military and veterans, and seniors 65 years and older.

First-Time Homebuyer Program

Florida Housing manages the Homebuyer Program, which offers a 30-year fixed rate first mortgage loan to first-time homebuyers through participating Florida lenders and lending institutions. Borrowers may also be eligible for one additional Florida Housing mortgage program to assist with down payments and closing costs.

Homebuyer Loan Program requirements include:

  • Minimum Credit Score of 640
  • Work with an approved, participating Program Lender
  • Complete the "Approved" Home Buyer Education
  • Purchase price below the limits for the county in which you purchase
  • Income below the limits for the county in which you purchase
  • Meet the IRS definition of a first-time homebuyer (you cannot have owned AND occupied your primary residence for the last three years prior to purchase)

For more information about eligibility, visit the Home Loan Program wizard.

First Mortgage Assistance

Hometown Heroes

The goal of the Florida Hometown Heroes Housing Program is to make homeownership possible in the community in which they work and live. This program offers down payment and closing cost assistance to first-time, income-qualified homebuyers who work in eligible frontline community occupations, such as law enforcement officers, firefighters, educators, healthcare professionals, childcare workers, active military, and veterans.

The Hometown Heros product also offers a lower first mortgage rate and additional special benefits to eligible recipients, such as:

  • Lower than market rates on a FHA, VA, RD, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac first mortgage plus reduced upfront fees, no origination points or discount points, and down payment and closing cost assistance.
  • 5% of the first mortgage amount (with a maximum of $25,000) in down payment and closing cost assistance
  • Down payment and closing cost assistance in the form of a 0%, non-amortizing 30-year deferred second mortgage. This becomes due and payable in full upon the event of a sale, transfer of deed, satisfaction of the first mortgage, refinance of the home, or in such time that the mortgagor(s) ceases to occupy the property as a primary residence.

Learn more about eligibility at

Tax Benefits for Active Military Duty and Veterans

Florida offers tax benefits to past, active, and honorably discharged members of the U.S. Armed Forces and Florida National Guard. Benefits may include a reduction in a property’s tax assessed value, exemption from ad valorem, and deployment exemptions. Read about each exemption and discount in the Florida Department of Revenue brochure, and be sure to contact your county’s assessor’s office to review your specific case and to submit your forms and applications.

Another program for active military personnel and veterans is The Salute our Soldiers Military Loan Program. The Salute our Soldiers Military Loan Program includes the Florida First Government Loan Program, HFA Conventional Loan Programs, The Florida Assist Loan Program, Homeownership Loan Program (MLP) Second Mortgage, and Salute our Soldiers PLUS.

Loan, Down Payment, and Closing Cost Assistance

The Florida Assist (FL Assist)

Florida home buyers may be eligible for a second mortgage loan through down payment or closing cost assistance. Buyers can apply for the down payment assistance if they use a Florida Housing first mortgage loan. Down payment assistance is not available as “standalone” assistance.

FL Assist offers up to $10,000 on FHA, VA, USDA, and Conventional Loans at 0%, non-amortizing, deferred second mortgage. FL Assist is not forgivable. Repayment is deferred unless the property is sold or transferred, the owner satisfies the first mortgage or refinances the property, or until a mortgagor ceases to occupy the property. If any of the aforementioned situations occur, FL Assist comes due and is payable in full.

Salute our Soldiers PLUS

The Salute our Soldiers PLUS offers down payment and closing cost assistance in the form of a second mortgage with a 0%, non-amortizing five-year term. The borrower’s first mortgage rate may vary on the amount of assistance received. The PLUS product offers 3%, 4%, or 5% of the final sales price in down payment and/or closing cost assistance. The rate of loan forgiveness is 20% per year over its five-year term. Any unpaid principal balance (UPB) is forgiven for active duty military personnel who are required to sell the property due to relocation. However, if in the first five years after purchase the borrower sells, refinances, transfers the deed, pays off the first mortgage or no longer occupies the property as their primary residence, any UPB comes due and is payable in full.

The Florida Homeownership Loan Program (FL HLP) Second Mortgage

The FL HLP program offers $10,000 in a second mortgage, at 3% fully amortizing rate over a 15-year term. Because this loan carries a monthly payment, it may need to be considered in the borrower’s debt-to-income (DTI) ratio during the credit underwriting process. The remaining unpaid principal balance (UPB) is deferred except in the event of a sale, transfer of deed, satisfaction of the first mortgage, refinance of the home, or in such time that the mortgagor(s) ceases to occupy the property as a primary residence. In any of those cases, the FL HLP comes due and payable in full.

3%, 4% and 5% HFA Preferred and HFA Advantage PLUS Second Mortgage

These down payment and closing cost programs lend 3%, 4%, or 5% of the total loan amount to the buyer as a forgivable second mortgage. This second mortgage is forgiven at 20% per year over its 15-year term if used in conjunction with Florida Housing’s conventional HFA Preferred for TBA or HFA Advantage for TBA first mortgage products. The HFA Advantage PLUS second mortgage is only available when those first conventional first mortgage products are used.

Explore eligibility and details about these first-time home buyer programs at

Tax Exemptions

Homestead Exemption

A property owner may be eligible for the Homestead Exemption when they make the property their permanent residence or the permanent residence of their dependent. Of the $50,000 exemption available, the first $25,000 applies to all property taxes (including school district taxes). The remaining $25,000 applies to the property’s assessed value between $50,000 and $75,000 (only to non-school taxes).

To learn more about exemption qualifications and to see examples of how it is applied, read the Florida Department of Revenue’s Homestead Exemption brochure and see all exemptions—including the Senior, Granny Flat, and Total and Permanent Homestead Exemptions—here.

The application for the Homestead Exemption form is found here.

Save Our Homes Assessment Limitation and Portability Transfer

The Save Our Homes (SOH) assessment limitation benefits Florida homeowners by limiting the amount a property can be assessed each year once certain requirements are met. Essentially, after a property receives its first Homestead exemption and the property appraiser assesses it at market (just) value, the assessment for every year that follows cannot increase more than 3% or the percent change found in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), whichever amount is is less (find the SOH Annual Increase chart here). Learn more about the SOH benefit in the Florida Department of Revenue’s brochure.

For a summary of federal real estate tax benefits, see our previous article “Tax Benefits for Home Buyers”.

Note: the Florida Department of Revenue advises that you consult your Realtor, mortgage lender, and prospective county property assessor’s office before purchasing a home to better understand how your real estate taxes will affect your budget and planning.

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