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Florida Property Tax for Canadians and British – International Buyer FAQs

A common misconception that many in Canada and the UK have is that Florida charges Canadians or British more in property tax than United States Citizens pay. We’ve had several calls lately saying they heard rumors that Canadians and Brits “get raked over the coals on property taxes.”

Not true!

Property tax is the same for Canadian or British snowbirds as it is for a Wisconsin snowbird, a Minnesotan snowbird, an Ohioan snowbird, or a Michigan snowbird.

All non-full-time residents are treated the same. The difference in the property tax structure is about to those who can claim the Florida property as their homestead (6 months or more and other conditions).

So what is the property tax rate for Canadian/British snowbirds or any other snowbird? Again, there is no difference in property appraiser valuation for snowbirds, no matter where they fly from. The tax rate (the mil rate) is the same for all residential property owners and the methods for assessing taxable value also are the same across the board.

Here’s the key difference between homesteaders and non-homesteaders (part time residents).

  • Homesteaders have an annual cap of 3% on the property’s taxable assessed value.
  • Non-homesteaders have an annual cap of 10% on the property’s taxable assessed value.

So when the market turns and property values increase, there is a limit to how much the property appraiser can increase the assessed value. If the property were to increase 15% in value in one year, the taxable assessed value can only be increased 3% (homesteaded) or 10% (non-homestead).

Homesteaders do have the option to take a homestead reduction, which reduces the assessed value. Once again, the tax rate remains the same for everyone no matter where their primary residence is.

Here is the Lee County brochure on Amendment 1 which pass in 2007 and which, thankfully, created the 10% assessed value cap for snowbirds: amendment-1-brochure

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25 Comments Post a comment
  1. Dusan #

    Also, I am planning to rent it through whole year to residents not seasonally.

    May 18, 2011
  2. Dusan #

    Thanks Brenda.
    My Accountant Calgary based told me that Florida non-residents pay 5 times higher property taxes than residents. She realy scared me. So, I am Florida non-resident and planning to rent the property out to somebody.
    I am looking to buy a property in Tampa Bay areas, places like St. Petersburg, Clear Waters.
    Also, if I hire Agency (property Manager) to do rentals are they also maintaining the property.

    May 18, 2011
    • I honestly don’t know where they get that information – those rumors have been circulating for years and years. And now there is a proposal to make it even better for part-time residents and we hope to see that come up for a vote soon. But you might want to ask her to research the tax issue for you. Or talk with a Florida accountant to ease your mind. To re-iterate that all non-residents are treated the same, whether from Calgary or Ohio. The tax rate is the same for everyone (residents and non-residents alike). The assessed value can fluctuate and that’s where the 3%/10% caps come in. It’d be a good idea to research the tax rate for the counties you are looking to purchase.

      Yes, if you hire an agency generally they do all the maintenance for you as well and you’ll want to look for that when interviewing candidate companies.

      Let me know if you’d like a referral to a Realtor in the Tampa/St Pete areas (we are Cape Coral, Fort Myers, the beaches, Sanibel, etc.).

      May 18, 2011
  3. Dusan #

    Hello from Calgary. Brenda you said that
    the property tax amount you see in the MLS listings is what the current owner is paying.
    So, I am wondering what will be the property tax if I am renting the property to somebody else and I am not resident of Florida.

    May 18, 2011
    • Hello,
      The property tax is only a tax on the value of the land and structure (called the “improvement”) and that does not change whether you reside in the home or rent it. There is a separate tourism tax or “bed tax” of 11% (6% state sales tax and 5% Lee county tourism tax) that you will need to collect from the tenant (assuming you will be renting seasonally 6 months or less). You can read more here. Most part time residents hire a property manager to do the rentals and he or she collects the tax and pays it on your behalf. Hope this helps.

      What part of Florida are you looking in for property? We are here for you if you decide to zero in on Southwest FL – it’s paradise!
      -Brenda

      May 18, 2011
  4. Enrico #

    Hello from Toronto. I just made an offer to purchase a foreclosed 2/1 condo in Florida. We’re in the 10 days inspection stage. My wife and I are in our early 30s and we did it as second home/recreation use and also in hope we it will prove to be a great investment down the road (only time will tell).
    My question is, if a property can only be assessed at a maximum of 10% per year for non-homesteaders, does that mean the (market) value of the property can’t go higher than that? It is the only thing that confuses me.

    May 3, 2011
    • Hello Enrico,
      Congratulations on your purchase and here’s wishing the inspection goes well for you. The 10% cap is an upper limit on what the government can do to increase the assessed value for the property tax purpose specifically and only. So for example, if in one year the market value were to increase 15%, the property appraiser cannot match that increase but is held to the 10% cap. Market value (what the property is worth to others on the open market) is independent of the tax-assessed value. Does that help? Let me know and if there are other questions. – Brenda

      May 3, 2011
  5. Thank you Brenda.

    April 20, 2011
  6. Hi from British Columbia, Canada.

    A year ago I bought a house in Naples, Fl. and I am the sole registered owner. When I heard about the probate system I began making enquiries. First I was told to leave things alone. Another said I should add my spouse to the title. Another told me to form a company in Florida. Yet another felt I should use a trustee. I am confused.

    The house is for recreation, especially during winter. My wife and I are long retired and the house may be sold when our ability to travel become restricted.

    My concerns are 1) Problems for my family should I die. 2)High non-resident tax. and 3) What happens should we decide to sell. What is your opinion? Please help. We have four children.

    April 20, 2011
    • Hello Yen,

      The above matter is one you should discuss with a real estate attorney or an estate planning attorney. We would suggest you consult with a Canadian attorney familiar with US Federal tax laws.

      April 20, 2011
  7. Jeff Heniuk #

    Hey Brenda, Next , So tax is re-set when you buy. question: So now one owns for 5, 10, 20 years, when do they normally assess the property value every 3, 5, 10 years after purchase? and is it different for resident vs non?
    THX much
    Jeff…. Edmonton Alberta.ca nice topic and site.

    February 25, 2011
    • Hi Jeff,
      Thanks for the comment in question! Property values are adjusted annually across the board – it makes no difference who owns the property. It’s the property, not the owner, that is used for valuation. In any given year the law now states that the value of the property can not increase more than 10% for non-residents. So something valued $100,000 last year can be re-assessed up to $110,000, but not higher than that. Let me know if that addresses your question or if you have others… we’re here! Thanks Brenda

      April 15, 2011
  8. kelly #

    Hi from Toronto area. If you buy a home at a bargain and they reset the tax based at that purchase price, is it possible for the assessed value to be reset higher the next year because you received such a great deal and they know it is worth more than you payed ( ie., can they reset the rate at market value the next year). Also, what if you got a fixer upper at a great rate and they assess it much higher the next year after you fix it up ???

    February 4, 2011
    • Hi Kelly,
      Good questions! The property appraiser does take into account the neighborhood and if the sale is “qualified.” If the home were to sell far far below the market value, they would take that in to account. And they also account for a “distressed” property. With respect to increases in the following year, that’s where the annual cap comes in. The assessed value cannot increase more than 10% in any given year (for part-time residents) or 3% for homesteaded residents. Let me know if you have any other questions!

      February 4, 2011
  9. Don #

    All very interesting. I am from the Toronto area and am also investigating the possibility of purchasing a Florida property (Port Charlotte area)to spend my winters during retirement. I have been searching this areas Multiple Listings and am impressed with the prices (especially compared to where I am from). When the listings quote the property tax amount, is this the amount a non-resident would pay…..or is this the “reduced” net amount that a resident would pay?

    January 31, 2011
    • Hi Don,

      So glad you are looking in Southwest Florida for your retirement home! You will feel right at home here – so friendly and warm (in both senses of the word). The property tax amount you see in the MLS listings is what the current owner is paying. The amount you will pay in future years will be based on the new assessed value which is essentially what you pay for the property. The property appraiser “re-sets” the assessed value using a formula that is approximately 90% of what you paid for the property. The mileage rate is then calculated off of that re-set assessed value. You can estimate what an anual property tax rate will be by multiplying 1.9% times the purchase price.

      Hope this helps and please let us know if you have any other questions!
      Cheers, Brenda

      January 31, 2011
  10. Doug WILSON #

    I don’t know if this thread is still open but will add my comments anyway.

    My wife & I are going to Florida (from Canada) at the beginning of March to start on the purchase of a winter home. We are currently looking at the Sebring area. On initial research it appears that this area has a better “bang for the buck” than the Gulf Coast. Am I correct in this assumption?

    Are there any updates from your discussions on this blog as it relates to taxation for non-residents?

    January 22, 2011
    • Hi Doug,
      Thanks for your message and questions. The property tax situation is the same (Canadians pay the same tax rate as other “snowbirds.”) With respect to various areas in SouthWest Florida, there certainly are many options! Sebring is very pretty. It’ll come as no surprise to you that we prefer the Cape Coral/Fort Myers area as it’s a bit warmer here in the winters and the proximity to beaches is a plus. There certainly are some good bargains still to be had in our area. If you want to send me a private email (info at sagerealtor.com) with information about your criteria and budget range, we’d be happy to send you some examples that you can use to compare and contrast.

      Hope you are staying warm and dry up there and having a great day,

      Brenda & Dave

      January 23, 2011
  11. John #

    Hi from Ottawa Canada,

    Interesting thread….

    I am considering purchasing a property in SW Florida as well. The only show stopper at this point is the taxation. Buying into such a biased system of taxation is just plain uncomfortable, even for those of us who are used to high taxes!

    The irony is that the unfair tax grab is no-doubt acting as a barrier to potential purchasers like myself who, with their purchases, would increase demand in the market and perhaps put a floor under the falling prices. The same falling prices that most severely affect the “homesteader”, who has to make his/her living in the local economy!

    October 3, 2009
    • John,
      Thanks for your note. We agree that the current system is not right. The same tax for all property owners would be more fair. We do have some in our state legislature who have been trying to get such a property tax change enacted, but it is a slow process (slowed down even more by the economic downturn). And ironically, those who use government services (such as schools) the least are the snowbirds, yet unless they homestead here, they pay a higher property tax.

      I will reply to you privately with some additional information that may be of help as you consider a Southwest Florida property purchase.

      As always, we appreciate your feedback, questions, and comments!
      -Brenda & Dave

      October 4, 2009
  12. Sherri Johnson #

    Sorry, I almost forgot – my new blog is at propertytaxlaw.wordpress.com.

    August 18, 2009
  13. Sherri Johnson #

    Hello, I read your post with interest. If you are interested in more information about property taxes in Florida, I just started a blog devoted to that issue. My goal is to first publish some basic information that would be helpful to property owners (and prospective property owners), and then offer more information about the recent changes and how they affect people. I would welcome your feedback.

    August 18, 2009
  14. Dear Frustrated Firemen, Certainly agree it would be nice if everyone paid the same rates, but at least this cap is better than the prior years where assessed value (and subsequent taxes) could skyrocket. And now, with property prices so low, it’s a good time to buy low and “set the level” if you will at what baseline the % increases are measured (when the market goes up).

    August 11, 2009
  15. john #

    Hello from Toronto. I am able to retire early and my wife may continue working she is a medical professional .We have been blessed with two very bright teenage daughters . Florida has been our vacation destination for more than 10yrs. The unfair treatment or even the fear of it is keeping me from making it our home. Frustrated Fireman

    August 10, 2009
  16. Gordon #

    I do think that the Florida property tax regime creates more problems that it solves. The fact that some people, be they U.S. citizens, Canadians or whatever, are treated unequally should cause concern. Moreover, the people who pay more are, by nature, the people who use the services less, being out-of-state for a significant portion of the year.

    The fact that there is now some type of cap on non-residents’ assessment increases doesn’t make the system fairer. A 10% cap on non-residents’ assessments, when there is a 3% cap on residents’ assessments, will ultimately increase the disparity between the two groups. Perhaps we should limit the decrease in value for residents to 3%/yr and the decrease in value for non-residents to 10%/yr. At some point, we would get back to when the Save Our Homes amendment was passed, and then start over.

    Don’t get me wrong. I love Florida, and I’ll stay there and pay whatever taxes regardless. But this type of tax regime is unfair, and takes advantage of an essentially powerless group. I’m not sure that the citizens of your state want to be known for that type of attitude. Certainly, when I’m down visiting, I get treated with kindness and respect.

    June 8, 2009

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