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Property Tax exemption for military now available!

Members of the military who were deployed in 2010 can get a break on their property taxes thanks to a new exemption that’s just become available.

Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment for the exemption in the November elections. The Legislature put the finishing touches on the exemption by approving the legal language. Now, it’s up to members of the military to file applications for the benefit.

The Duval County Property Appraiser’s Office has been sending information about the exemption to the region’s military bases.

“If they don’t know about it yet, they’ll soon know,” said Dana Clark, division chief of customer service and exemptions.

The exemption is for those deployed outside the United States in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation New Dawn.

The amount of savings on property taxes is based on how much time a service member was deployed during the previous year. The longer the deployment, the greater the exemption.

For instance, if a service member was deployed six months in 2010, the exemption would cut the tax bill by 50 percent. The military exemption would be in addition to the homestead exemption that all Floridians receive. If a service member was deployed for six months in 2010 and owns a $150,000 home, the military exemption would translate to a reduction of about $750 on the tax bill.

The savings will appear on the 2011 property tax bill. That’s the way the law works – the amount of time spent in deployment the previous calendar year will be applied to an exemption that cuts the current year’s property taxes.

Clark said so far, about 150 people have applied for the exemption in Duval County. For more information about the discount, service members should contact their county tax appraiser.

The homestead exemption is the latest way Florida has sought to ease the property tax burden for those in the military.

Another tax break that’s been around for a while allows service members who are transferred to keep their homestead exemption for their Florida homes. Florida law lets them keep that homestead exemption even if they move out of the homes and rent them. Typically, a rental home can’t get the benefits of the homestead exemption.