Two Legislative Changes to Pay Attention to

By: Matt O’Kane

Here’s how the recent legislative changes will affect you:

Spousal Homestead Transfer

A new law signed by Governor DeSantis extends the documentary stamp tax exemption for the conveyance of homestead property between spouses.   As background, the State of Florida imposes documentary stamp tax of seventy cents per $100 of consideration.  Consideration includes, among other things, mortgage obligations or other liens.  Prior to last year, the conveyance of homestead property from one spouse to another spouse, or any interest therein, was subject to documentary stamp tax if the homestead property was encumbered by debt.  Thus, if homestead property was held in the name of one spouse and was encumbered by $100,000 mortgage, the transfer of a one-half interest of the property to the other spouse would be subject to documentary stamp in the amount of $350.  Last year, a new exemption eliminated the documentary tax expense, if the deed or other instrument was recorded within one year after the date of marriage and the only consideration for the transfer or conveyance is the amount of a mortgage or other lien encumbering the homestead property at the time of the conveyance.  The new exemption extends the exemption by eliminating the one year requirement.  The revised exemption goes into effect July 1, 2019.

Sales tax on Commercial Rental Fees

For the third year in a row, the sales tax rate on commercial leases has been reduced.  Beginning of January 1, 2020, the State of Florida’s sales tax on rental payments for the lease of commercial real property will be reduced from 5.7% to 5.5% for rental payments received for occupancy periods beginning on or after January 1, 2020. Commercial landlords and management companies sending out invoices for occupancy periods beginning on or after January 1, 2020 should revise their invoice software to account for this sales tax reduction.  Note that this sales tax reduction does not impact the local discretionary sales surtax imposed by many Florida counties.

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