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Considering a Move to Florida?

The greater Sarasota area is a popular destination for many new residents, as it offers some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and a climate that makes visitors want to stay for a long, long time.  This community has been our home for more than 80 years, and we are proud to be a part of it.

When considering whether to make Florida your permanent residence, so that Florida would become your actual state of domicile, it is important to have an understanding of the state’s tax laws.  This reference guide explains the general tax structure of the state and answers the questions most commonly asked by individuals considering a move to Florida. If you have any questions or if our firm can assist in your relocation in any way, please contact the Chair of the firm’s Estate Planning Section, the Chair of the Business and Tax Section, or any other member of the firm by calling (941) 366-4800.   We may also be reached through our website at www.williamsparker.com.

Intangible Personal Property Tax (Repealed).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  This tax was repealed effective January 1, 2007.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 exemption is generally automatically renewed for each year after that).  In January 2008, Florida voters approved a Constitutional amendment regarding Florida real property tax laws.  Go to www.sarasotaproperty.net quick links section entitled “Amendment 1” to review the new homestead property tax benefits.   

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 return 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.  Go to www.sarasotaproperty.net quick links section entitled “Tangible Personal Property” to review the new tangible personal property tax benefits and procedures.

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 outside 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. 


The following information relates to residents of Sarasota and Manatee Counties and is current as of July 1, 2008.

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 as noted below:

Sarasota County – Go to www.sarasotaclerk.com quick links section entitled “Forms” or type in the search box “Declaration of Domicile” to obtain a copy of the Declaration of Domicile.  Once it is completed, take it to the office of the Clerk of Court for recording at the Sarasota County Courthouse, 2000 Main Street, Sarasota (941) 861-7400 or at the Robert L. Anderson Administration Center, 4000 South Tamiami Trail, Venice (941) 861-7400.  A form may also be obtained at each of these locations.  

Manatee County – Go to www.manateeclerk.com section entitled “Clerk Services” then go to “Forms and Fees” and then under “Forms” go to “Recording” or you may go to the Manatee County Courthouse, Recording Department, 1115 Manatee Avenue West, Bradenton (941) 749-1800 where the document can be recorded.  If you are filing for homestead exemption, you will need to bring a recorded copy to the Property Appraiser’s Office.

Where do I register to vote?  
A registration form may be obtained online or at the office of the local Supervisor of Elections or at many banks and libraries.  The form will provide instructions for filing.  The locations are:

Sarasota Countywww.srqelections.com or 101 South Washington Boulevard, Sarasota (941) 861-8600

Manatee Countywww.votemanatee.com or 305 15th Street West, Bradenton (941) 741-3823  

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.  

For complete information, contact the Property Appraiser’s Office at the locations shown below:

Sarasota County – Go to www.sarasotaproperty.net or to the Property Appraiser’s Office, 2001 Adams Lane, Sarasota (941) 861-8200.

Manatee County – Go to www.manateepao.com or to the Property Appraiser’s Office, 915 4th Avenue West, Bradenton (941) 748-8208.

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 outlines 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, the locations are as follows:

Sarasota County – three locations – 101 South Washington Boulevard, First Floor, Sarasota (941) 861-8300; 601 South Pompano Avenue, Sarasota (941) 361-6219; and 1212 Jacaranda Boulevard, Venice (941) 483-5997.

Manatee County – five locations – 819 301 Boulevard West, Bradenton (941) 741-4800; 7411 Manatee Avenue West, Suite 200, Bradenton (941) 741-4800; 3611 First Street East, Suite 1010, Bradenton (941) 708-6432; 6007 111th Street East, Bradenton (941) 741-4800; and 1341 US Hwy 301, Palmetto (941) 741-4800.  

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 the following locations:

Sarasota County – three locations – 101 South Washington Boulevard, First Floor, Sarasota (941) 861-8300;  8484 South Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (941) 861-8300; and 4000 South Tamiami Trail, Venice (941) 861-8300.

Manatee County – four locations –  819 301 Boulevard West, Bradenton (941) 741-4800; 7411 Manatee Avenue West, Suite 200, Bradenton (941) 741-4800; 6007 111th Street East, Bradenton (941) 741-4800; and 1341 US Hwy 301, Palmetto (941) 741-4800.

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.  If you have any questions regarding Florida automobile insurance, contact the Chair of the Litigation Section or any litigation attorney in the firm by calling (941) 366-4800.

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 Service Center in Atlanta, Georgia, which is the regional office for the State of Florida.  

Do I need to file non-resident tax returns in my former state of residence?  
If you have or had income-producing property or employment in a former state of residency, non-resident income tax returns may still be due.  A few states have a final return or form that can be filed indicating a termination of residence, and if available, should be filed to help clarify the change to Florida residency.  Any questions should be addressed to the professionals in your prior state of residence. 

This area is unparalleled in its beauty and culture.  This combined with the fact that the State of Florida offers one of the most favorable tax climates in the nation make this an ideal community in which to relocate.  Whether or not you make this your permanent home, we look forward to having you as a part of our community.

Williams, Parker, Harrison, Dietz & Getzen offers clients the breadth of experience that is characteristic of a large law firm and the close attention to service that is the competitive advantage of a small law firm. We provide legal services in the areas of Banking & Finance, Business Law, Employment Law, Estate Planning & Estate Administration, Governmental Law, Health Law, Land Use, Zoning & Condemnation, Injury Law & Wrongful Death, International Client Services, Litigation, Real Estate and Tax.

The hiring of an attorney is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements.  Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience. 

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