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New to Florida?

So You’re now becoming a new FL Resident? Now What?

This page addresses some basic issues you might encounter when you move to Florida.    Although the information on this page is Florida-specific,  these issues are equally true (for the most part) in other U.S. states as well.  Should you take up residency in another state, you will need to consult someone who is familiar with the laws and regulations of that specific state.  I recommend you seek the advise and counsel of a lawyer authorized to practice law in that respective state.

How do I file a “Declaration of Domicile” in Florida?
This document is prepared by you (on a form provided by the Clerk of Court) and recorded in the office of the Clerk of Court in the county in which you reside. There is a small fee to file the Declaration of Domicile or to obtain a certified copy.  A copy of the form may be obtained by going to the website of the Clerk of Court for your county.

How do I file for the homestead exemption?
Florida law sets firm requirements for persons receiving the homestead exemption. The following criteria apply (and are explained in further detail at the websites shown below):
• Only individuals are eligible for the homestead exemption;  business entities do not qualify.
• The deed or document establishing the ownership or beneficial interest must be recorded in the public records by January 1.
• As of January 1, the applicant must be a permanent resident of Florida, own and occupy the property as his or her permanent residence, and hold title to or have a beneficial interest in the property.
• A Florida driver’s license and a Florida voter’s registration card should be presented with the application to show proof of Florida residency. An initial application for homestead exemption may be filed at any time, by mail or in person, but it must be filed on or before March 1 of the year for which the exemption applies. Once the exemption is granted , the county mails the owner a postcard each year to confirm that he or she still qualifies for the exemption. There are additional exemptions available for widows, widowers, and others, which must be applied for separately.

Do I need to change my automobile insurance?
In compliance with the Florida “no fault law”, an automobile insurance policy must contain personal injury protection (PIP) coverage which provides reimbursement to an extent for medical expenses and lost wages . The most important coverage you can buy to protect you and your family members is uninsured motorist coverage, which provides insurance coverage for you and members of your immediate family if the other driver either has no insurance or does not have enough insurance to compensate you for your injuries. Under Florida law, uninsured motorist coverage cannot exceed the liability coverage in the policy you purchase. However, there are elections that can be made to provide uninsured motorist coverage over and above your liability coverage . In addition, you may be able to acquire additional coverage through your homeowners’ umbrella policy.

Where do I obtain a Florida driver’s license?
The best way to review the requirements for a Florida driver’s license is to go online at www.dmvflorida.org. This website out lines the requirements for different kinds of licenses and provides office hours, online appointment scheduling, directions, and other online services. If you need to go to a field office, located near where you will live.

Where do I register my automobile in Florida?
We strongly recommend that you go online at www.hsmv.state.fl.us and review the requirements for residents of your county before registering your automobile. Generally, a Florida driver’s license and proof of insurance from a company licensed to do business in Florida are required before the automobile can be registered in Florida. You can register your automobile in Florida and obtain Florida tags at any local Florida DMV office.

Where do I file my federal income tax return?
Florida residents may either file their federal income tax return and pay estimated tax payments through an online service or through the IRS Ser vice Center in Atlanta. Georgia, which is the regional office for the State of Florida.

TAXES IMPOSED BY THE STATE OF FLORIDA

Intangible Personal Property Tax (Repealed).
This is an annual tax assessed on intangible personal property owned by Florida residents and valued as of January 1 of each year. This tax was repealed effective January 1, 2007.

Sales and Use Tax.
Florida has a general sales and use tax of 6%. Counties may levy an additional tax as permitted by law.

Real Property Tax.
This tax is based on the ownership of land in Florida, whether or not the owner considers Florida his or her home. The tax is assessed annually based on the value of the land and its improvements. If the owner is a Florida resident and the property qualifies as his or her homestead on January 1, the owner can apply for a homestead exemption by filing before March 1 of that year (the exempt ion is generally automatically renewed for each year after that). In January 2008, Florida voters approved a Constitutional amendment regarding Florida real property tax laws.

Estate Tax.
For persons who die after December 31, 2004, there is no estate tax or inheritance tax levied by the State of Florida. Corporate Income Tax. Corporations that have “nexus ” with Florida (usually because they have property, employees or agents located in Florida) are subject to a 5.5% corporate income tax on their Florida income. In general, corporations qualifying as “S” corporations for federal income tax purposes and entities treated as partnerships or disregarded entities for federal income tax purposes are not liable for this tax. Florida does not impose an income tax upon individuals.

Tangible Personal Property Tax.
There is an annual tax assessed on: property used in the operation of a business; mobile home attachments when the land is rented; and furnishings and appliances used on rental property. Household furniture and furnishings of a Florida resident are not subject to the Florida personal property tax. The Florida automobile tax takes the place of an annual automobile personal property tax that is levied by many states. With the exception of mobile home attachments, the tangible personal property assessment is typically based upon the tax ret urn that has been completed by the property owner. The return is filed with the Property Appraiser between January and April of each year. Taxes are collected beginning in November. In January 2008, Florida voters approved a Constitutional amendment regarding Florida personal property tax laws. As a result of this amendment. when you file a tangible personal property tax return, you are also applying for the $25,000 ad valorem tax exemption.

Personal Income Tax.
The State of Florida does not have a personal income tax. It is prohibited by the Constitution of the State of Florida.

Persons Domiciled Outside of the United States.
Persons who are not U.S. citizens and who reside outs ide the United States should consider the potential U.S. income, estate, and gift tax consequences of acquiring interests in Florida real estate prior to the acquisition of such property. Such pre-acquisition planning could help to minimize the impact of U.S. taxes, particularly with respect to nonresident alien individuals from countries that have tax treaties with the United States.

Tourist Development Tax.

Rent from residential property that is rented for periods of six months or less is generally subject to the 4% Florida tourist development tax. This tax is in addition to sales tax and any discretionary sales surtax imposed by the county where the property is located.