Girlfriends at Home

August 2015 – Homestead Exemption and Same Sex Marriage

As of January 6, 2015, Florida began recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions and issuing marriage licenses for same-sex marriages to be performed in Florida. This new legal status for married same-sex couples allows for ownership of real property by the married couple as Tenants By The Entireties.


TENANTS BY THE ENTIRETY (TBTE): This applies only to married couples. This TBTE status — which is automatic when the Grantees of a deed are identified as a married couple — gives each spouse overlapping 100% interests in their Homestead Property Tax Exemption, full exemption coverage (when one spouse receives the Homestead Exemption), and rights of survivorship (inheritance) for the surviving spouse.

The creation of a tenancy by the entireties is not automatic as a result of marriage. A new deed changing the ownership type of a couple to a married couple must be recorded in Public Records. Be sure to consult with your attorney and get her/his assistance before making changes to the ownership of your property.


Under Florida law, married couples are only permitted one Homestead Exemption/permanent residency based property tax exemption. Prior to January 6, 2015, same-sex couples married outside of Florida could maintain two permanent residency based property tax exemptions because their legal status was not recognized in Florida. Now, same-sex married couples (as any married couple) cannot claim more than one Florida Homestead Exemption and cannot claim a Florida Homestead Exemption if either person is claiming a permanent residency based property tax exemption anywhere in the world.

Since recognition of same-sex marriages in Florida took place after January 1, 2015, beginning with the 2016 tax year same-sex married couples will be subject to a loss of their Florida Homestead Exemption, back assessment liens, penalties, and interest, if they are found to be claiming a Florida Homestead Exemption and another permanent residency based exemption anywhere else. Florida law requires a Homestead Exemption recipient/applicant to notify the Property Appraiser of any change in circumstance which affects her/his eligibility for exemption. To avoid any of these consequences, married couples should determine which Homestead Exemption/permanent residency based exemptions to surrender and which one to keep as soon as possible then notify the Property Appraiser’s Office of their decision.