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Apply for homestead exemption

The deadline to apply for the 2006 homestead exemption is Wednesday. You can download the forms and instructions from my Web site, www.pa.citrus.fl.us, and mail or bring the completed application with the required documentation.

You can also visit either office, in Crystal River at the Crystal Square Shopping Center on U.S. 19 or in Inverness at the Courthouse Annex, a block north of the courthouse at 210 N Apopka Ave.

To apply you must provide copies of or have with you in person your recorded deed or tax bill.

All owners residing on the property and making application for the exemption must provide the following information:

+ If you drive, a Florida driver's license and one of the following, Florida vehicle registration or Florida voter registration card.

+ If you do not drive, any two of the following - Florida Identification Card, Florida vehicle registration, Florida voter registration card.

+ Social Security cards are required for all owners making application and their spouses, even if the spouse does not own and/or reside on the property. Preferably your card or some other document with your number.

+ If you are not a U.S. citizen, your Permanent Residence (green) Card (front and back).

The homestead exemption provides Florida resident homeowners with a $25,000 deduction from the assessed value of their home, saving approximately $500 in taxes.

If you purchased your home after Jan. 1, 2006, and the previous homeowner had a homestead exemption, you should note that if the seller had moved to another home prior to Jan. 1, 2006, and elects to apply for exemption at their new residence, the exemption on our records could be removed.

If this is the first year you have applied for homestead exemption on an existing home and the prior owner had an exemption, the new assessed value will be equal to the market value, making it possible for you to see a dramatic rise in the tax liability for 2006. This information should have been disclosed to you during the transaction with your Realtor.

The 3 percent cap provided to Florida residents is a Constitutional amendment passed in 1994 and only covers homes with homestead exemption.

If this is the first year you qualify for the exemption, the 3 percent cap will not take affect until the 2007 tax roll.

If you have any questions concerning this exemption or others for which you may qualify, please contact my office at 341-6600.

Melanie Hensley is the Citrus County property appraiser.

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